Esser honored for service to community

Longtime Boulder City resident and professional musician Phil Esser has more than one reason to celebrate this holiday season.

Not only was he recognized as the 2018 Bill Andrews Award recipient by City Council on Tuesday, but he has also been cancer free for approximately three months.

“It’s always nice to be recognized especially since I’ve been on sabbatical for four or five years,” he said.

Esser said he’s been fighting bladder cancer during that time.

“It took me that long to beat it.”

He said will continue to get scans to monitor the disease, but he is optimistic about the future and looking forward to performing again.

“Everything was going splendidly until the cancer. … I’m starting to feel better,” he said.

The Bill Andrews Award, presented annually by the City Council since 2000, recognizes individuals who make a difference in the community. Since joining the community about 20 years ago, Esser has helped raise thousands of dollars for local nonprofits, including Boulder City Hospital, Emergency Aid of Boulder City, Lend A Hand of Boulder City and the American Legion.

“I’ve always been that way,” he said of his community service.

Esser said he started his career in music as a rock ‘n’ roll singer in the 1950s. He joined the United States Air Force and became a folk singer in Denver. By the 1970s, he was producing live theater in Detroit, which he did for about 30 years before coming to Boulder City in 2000. While in Detroit, he did a lot of fundraisers, which he continued in Nevada.

He said he actually started raising money for Boulder City before moving here. Esser said Gene Segerblom contacted him about raising money for the Boulder Dam Hotel.

“I started immediately … literally within a few weeks, raising money for the Boulder Dam Hotel,” he said.

Esser also is involved with his church, St. Andrew Catholic Community, as its music director.

Esser was nominated by several people for the award including past winners Don Walker and Joe Rowe.

Walker said he always took advantage of working with Esser because he knew how to organize and put on a good show.

“It was unusual for a community this small to have talent of his caliber. … He’s made his contribution to the community in no uncertain terms,” he said.

Rowe said Esser should be recognized for all the good work he’s done to help the people of Boulder City.

“I haven’t seen him do anything bad,” he said. “He’s done a lot of good things.”

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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