Philip B. Clough, 90

 

Philip Clough

Philip Clough

Philip B. “Phil” Clough, 90, passed away on Monday, April 11, 2016, at the Bridgton Hospital due to renal failure. He was surrounded by Winona Camps family not only in his final moments, but also in the previous days and weeks when his spirits were repeatedly lifted by so many phone calls, messages and camp visitors at his home.

“Uncle” Phil, as he was known, was Winona’s longest serving staff member (53 summers!), teaching Senior Mountain Trips and Riflery to literally thousands of Winona campers and Family Campers. He was such an important part of our community for so long. He will be dearly missed.

Phil’s father and mother came to the United States from England as gardeners for a wealthy family located on Martha’s Vineyard, and in 1926 Phil was born in Boston, Mass. His father’s subsequent job with fire sprinkler systems led the family to Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass. Phil graduated from Tabor in 1944 and was drafted into WWII that autumn, where he spent two years with the Allied forces, mainly in and around West Germany, as the war came to an end. This was to be the time in his life where he developed not only a keen interest and respect for firearms, but also a love for foreign and classic languages.

Upon his return from Europe, Phil attended Yale University on the G.I. Bill. He was a member of Silliman College and graduated with a degree in History in 1950. Returning to work at Tabor’s summer camp introduced him to Homer and Barbara Gammons, and their four children, Holly, Betsy, Wendy and Chris. As Phil was an only child, and lifelong bachelor, the Gammons family was to be Phil’s true home for much of his life, and one of three “families” he would have in his lifetime (the other two families being Northwood School and Winona). Homer and Phil spent hours discussing books, nature and classical music, while also teasing one another about their alma mater (Homer was a Harvard man). In many ways, Phil ìgrew upî with the four Gammons children and called them his siblings for the rest of his life.

As a consummate educator, Phil spent years teaching at various schools (Westminster, Darrow, New Hampton) until 1963, when he began a 32-year tenure at Northwood School, Lake Placid, N.Y. Here, he was head of the Classical Language department and taught Latin, Greek and eventually Geology and other subjects. He coached JV soccer, lacrosse and led many students on hikes in the surrounding Adirondack Mountains, as he became a “46er” (completing ascents, in some cases several times, of the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks). He was also a dorm master and is remembered for his offerings of post-study hall PB&J sandwiches in his apartment. Many alumni fondly recall the classic, parting Phil-ism, “See you around the campus.”

Phil’s first year at Northwood School was to be fortuitous in that he met Assistant Headmaster J. L. Gorham Smith. “Uncle Smitty,” as he was known at Winona, was a longtime Unit Director and recruited Phil onto the Senior Winona staff that very first summer. The rest, as they say, is history: Uncle Phil spent 53 summers on the shores of Moose Pond as a well-respected mentor and friend to Winona campers and staff. He had the ability to connect with campers either with a funny joke or with a captivating story about his early days at Winona. Phil taught campers how to “do the right thing” in the mountains and on the range; he’d watch over them, from a distance, as they made their own decisions, experienced their own consequences and he would commend them with the results.

In 1995 Phil retired from Northwood and bought a home in Bridgton, where he lived until his passing. He enjoyed nearly daily lunches at Winona during the off-season, was an active member of the Great Falls Model Railway club (he had a fondness for trains ever since he had been a young boy) and was an admired fan of Hebron Academy’s (Hebron, Maine) athletics. You could find him at soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse games, often on the Hebron bus or sitting on the team bench, and giving the athletes high-fives and words of encouragement. And if you visited Phil during his Bridgton years you most likely were invited to join him for a prime rib meal at one of the many local restaurants he frequented in southern Maine — he loved great meals with great company!

We will remember his thoughtful way of clipping newspaper and magazine articles to share with others, his skill with crossword puzzles and his annual Winona job of filling out each banner certificate with his perfect calligraphy handwriting. We will also remember his humorous disdain for snow, politically incorrect chocolate baked goods on mountain trips and his preferred driving speed. One former staff member sums it up by saying Uncle Phil was “a lovely man, a great counselor and a truly frightening taxi driver.”

A very special thank you to Shelly Fitzgerald (Wi nurse 1991 – 2001, 2013) who cared round-the-clock for Uncle Phil in his final days and who personally helped him to organize his paperwork and medical care over the past several years. She did this all with the greatest care and compassion and everyone in our community thanks Shelly for her genuine love for camp and for Uncle Phil.

Phil requested to have no formal funeral or memorial service. To celebrate his life, hike a mountain in his honor and remember his joyful parting phrase, “See you later!”

 

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