SCARBOROUGH - Philip S. Gerow, 83, of South Portland, passed away peacefully surrounded by love, light and guided by his family on March 26, 2017.
He was born in Woodland, Maine to Cora and Edgar Stitham on January 9th, 1934. His mother died in May and his father in November of the same year and his great Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Maurice Gerow took him in and loved and raised him as their own. He was adopted at 18 and took the name Philip Stitham Gerow.
After his graduation from high school he attended Husson College and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Business Education.
He was drafted in the Army and went to Texas for his basic training and was stationed for two years in Izmir, Turkey. While there he was able to travel through the Holy Lands.
After returning from Turkey he took a job at Milo High School where he taught Business Education from 1956 to 1967, when it became Penquis Valley High School, all while earning his Master's Degree in 1971 from UMO.
Through his life he was, Adult Ed Director, a Selectman, Interim Town Manager, Superintendent of Sunday School at the Methodist Church, National Guard, worked summers doing secretarial work for the Ladd Agency, a reporter for the Bangor Daily News, and loved his hobby of cake decorating. He made many wedding, birthday, and special occasion cakes for the Milo and surrounding communities. He was Student Council Advisor, Yearbook Advisor, and student play director through the years with the high school. A highlight of his service career was that he was the oldest E-6 in the state of Maine to attend the NCO school in Augusta.
He married Ina Jane Nelson in 1962 and raised their 3 daughters, who many know were named after the 'Little Women'. Amy, Meg, and Beth, but never had a Jo, so many of family pets were given that name through the years.
He retired from teaching and the National Guard in 1996. After his retirement he continued to substitute teach in the elementary school and was licensed in special education. In 2009 Phil and Ina Jane moved to southern Maine to be near his children and grandchildren. He started showing signs of dementia, and after a much needed knee replacement, slipped deeper into this difficult disease with grace and honor.
Philip loved God, his country, his family, and his community with fierce devotion. He lived to serve in every sense of the word and took great pride in doing so.
There was never a benefit dinner at the Milo Town Hall, an American Red Cross blood drive, a wedding reception, prom decorating, parade organizing, or church caroling and food donation that Phil wouldn't volunteer to head up and/or guilt you into helping him with. His children and any of the classes he was an advisor to, remember being recruited for endless volunteer projects and can attest to his ability to never say no. If you feel so inclined, please make a blood donation in his memory.
He loved teaching, cared deeply for the kids and was passionate about school spirit. He would always try to instill that with everything he did. His colorful outfits with matching socks and his holiday themed attire were always expected. Hearing about the lives he touched through his career teaching provides his family with great comfort at this time and for days to come.
Phil was a Patriot in every sense. His love of country and community was second to his faith in God. He was lead by his faith and lived to serve wherever and however he could.
To speak about Phil as a father and family man, we could never do justice his love for family, extended and otherwise. He always made certain the greatest of honor was paid to each individual. Birthdays were especially celebrated with parties and cake galore. He loved to make sure everyone felt special, honored and loved. When his mother turned 90, he planned a big celebration with extended family and made sure she had 90 flower mums for her celebration. For her 100th, he made sure she had 100 roses. He loved his mother with everything he had and was always grateful for the life both she and his father provided him. In his final years, as hideous as this disease could be, the comfort he provided his family with when he spoke of seeing his "mumma and daddy" and how his beautiful and special sister, Alice were always around him.
To speak of him as a father, his 3 girls would describe him as incredibly supportive, uproariously fun, and unfailingly encouraging. He never judged nor spoke an unkind word of others. The life lessons he taught us are practiced today. The unconditional love he has provided us are the very foundation upon how we continue his love today.
His grandchildren loved and adored him and he loved and was so proud of his, Giavanna Rose, Sophia Haley, and Garrett Philip. You three were everything to him.
To the Milo community, he loved you so. There are so many of you that he spoke of often and within this disease he'd find a doppelgänger in which would be a great comfort to him with feelings of familiarity and home. He kept us laughing and happy through the end of his life. He felt our love and the love sent through many people via social media, email, texts, and phone calls. We shared it all with him. We believed he knew and understood.
We can't thank the Maine Veteran's Home in Scarborough enough for the last 5 years of love, dignity, and compassion you have shown our family. We have so much love and fond memories of the special times there and the quality of care and of the undying love you showed our father and family. Words could never express how grateful we are for all of you, but we want to say a special thank you to, Marissa, Lauren, Carolyn, Al, Kristi, Cheryl, Dan, Kathy, Kylie, Julie, Ally, Christine, Gaylor, April, Lexi, Lindsay, Antoinette, Salome, Marc, and Donna. You are incredible caregivers who will always hold a special place in our hearts for all of your care and love through the years. Angels here on earth. We love you so.
Philip is survived by his wife of 54 years, Ina Jane, his daughter Amy Elizabeth and her husband Queena, his daughter Margaret Elizabeth (Meg) and her husband, Greg, his daughter, Elizabeth Irene (Beth), and his beloved grandchildren, Giavanna Rose, Sophia Haley, and Garrett Philip. He is loved beyond words and will be missed forever and beyond. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and numerous other extended family members whom he loved deeply. A very special mention of his sister, Edwina, and he is predeceased by a biological brother, Ronald. Also predeceased by brother Herbert, and sister Alice and her husband Gus, and sister Nella and her husband Jim.
A celebratory memorial service will be held at a future date.
Please visit www.jonesrichandbarnes.com to sign Philip's online guest book.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to either:
The Maine Veteran's Home
290 US Rt 1,
Scarborough, Maine 04074
The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers
93 Silver Street
Waterville, Maine 04901