Phil Zepeda '66

Past board member and Franciscan Alumni Association Financial Adviser, G. Phil Zepeda,CFP was known to his St. Francis class of '66 as "Greg" before he joined the order in 1968 in Oldenburg.  He came to know the Franciscans through his association with the Cincinnati Friars and the Franciscan Sisters from Mishawaka while a student at St. Michael School in Southfield, Michigan where he sang in the choir, served as an altar boy and was eventually tapped on the shoulder for a summer retreat at the minor seminary under the watchful eyes of Frs. Sylvan Becker and Basil Westendick.  His family lived on Duns Scotus Avenue.  How could he not come under the Franciscan spell, growing up in their long shadow?

Phil and his family lived for a time in post-war Japan, where his sister, Annette, was born and where Phil believes he first got the spark of inspiration to be a missionary.  He actually had noodled over the notion of joining the Society of the Divine Word until the Franciscan ideal captured his imagination, whereupon he began studies at St. Francis in 1962.  He particularly liked the scholastic challenge, sports, Glee Club, the frivolous frolics called plays under the tutelage of Fr. Aubert, OFM and the process of "growing into manhood" with a great group of guys, including his younger brother, Carl, SFS '70.

Invested as Friar Phil in Novitiate in Oldenburg, Indiana, he continued with the Franciscans through Duns Scotus, a summer in Park View, New Mexico with Fr. Declan (Nils) Thompson, OFM and a brief start at St. Leonard's.  Upon leaving the Order, he pursued a Masters in Religious Studies/Counseling at the University of Detroit while teaching high school at Holy Redeemer in Inner City Detroit for a number of years.

Army life must have instilled a sense of entrepreneurship in Phil, because he eventually left teaching and embarked on continued education and numerous self-employed pursuits until financial planning provided the challenge and diversity to keep him interested.

Phil earned a Masters of Science degree in Financial Planning & Tax from the College of Financial Planning, Denver as well as virtually every recognized professional designation in the field and pursued his professional education via Executive Education at University of Michigan; University of Chicago, Wharton and Harvard.  He's an Enrolled Agent, admitted to practice before the IRS and earned his CFP, ChFC, CLU, LIC, ATA, and ATP designations.

He started Financial Blueprints, Inc (1980); Zepeda & Associates, Inc. (1981); Ann Arbor Center for Financial Planning, LLC (1986) and its companion firms, Zepeda Properties, LLC (2000) and Ad Astra Tax/Financial, Inc in 2006.  His firms provide a full range of financial services: financial planning; investment design/mgmt, retirement/insurance plans, real estate mgmt, tax advisory and preparation and notary/bookkeeping services, which his wife, Claire runs under the moniker "Lifestyles Bookkeeping."  He chaired the $500 million+ Ann Arbor Municipal Employees Pension Board for half-dozen years.  He's been affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services, St. Petersburg, FL since 1986.

Phil & Claire have two girls/two sons: Renee (30), working simultaneously on her M.Ed & MFA, did a year abroad in Munich, Germany for her junior year at the University of Michigan where she earned her BA, while her younger sister, Andrea (29), is in her second year of anesthesia residency at U-M Hospital in Ann Arbor, having graduated Medical School at U-M and undergrad at U of Chicago.  Andrea did her senior year of high school in Tuebingen, Germany, Ann Arbor's "Schwester-Stadt" after turning down a Rotary Youth Exchange to Ecuador.  Justin (29), married to Julie, works for Ford Field in Detroit and Kevin (28) is a business mgr for Advergraphics, Inc in Chicago.

The family loves Big Ten sports, with Andrea throwing herself into the fray of Chicago lacrosse and Phil often hosting classmates at U-M home games.  Justin, having played trumpet in the U-M Marching Band for five years and currently working for the Detroit Lions, has been a source of Lions and Tigers tickets for all interested parties over the years.

Phil attributes his success in business to the spirit of "service above self" which is the shibboleth of Rotary to which he has belonged for twenty eight years in the Ann Arbor North Club where he founded his club's Foundation in 1992.  A graduate school professor used to tell his class, "If you want to be Nobel prize winners, hang around Nobel prize winners-join Rotary!"  So Phil did.  Many of his current clients are Rotarians who share the same spirit of community service.  Phil is a Paul Harris Fellow, was Rotarian of the Year for District 6380, led a Group Study Exchange Team to Morelia, Mexico where his paternal grandmother was born, and was an Assistant Governor of his Rotary district.  Phil was the inspiration and impetus for chartering four Rotary clubs in Michigan and is responsible for recruiting 100s of new Rotarians over the years.

Additionally Phil has been in Jaycees: a Member of the Ypsilanti Jaycees and an Honorary Ann Arbor Jaycee.  The Jaycees put him forth as one of their Outstanding Young Men of America.  He served on numerous non-profit boards in addition to the Franciscan Alumni Association, for which he twice served as president.  He's been the music director in several parishes where he also played guitar, worked with youth including Boys/Girls Clubs, Scouts, several Senior Agencies, Catholic Social Services, helped run the Dick Headlee gubernatorial campaign in Ann Arbor, and served as officer or president of several professional societies.

Phil worked with Jim Beyer ('64) and George Ski ('54) on the FAA Awards committee and helped to organize the 2000 Chapter in Detroit.

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