Philip Matheson

Obituary of Philip C. Matheson

Philip C. Matheson, devoted father and grandfather, longtime Bell Telephone employee, skilled craftsman and lifelong Norristown area resident and community contributor, died peacefully Aug. 13 in West Deptford, N.J. He was 89.

Philip was born and raised on a farm in the Cold Point section of Plymouth Township, the first of two sons of A. Craige and Marie (Haebler) Matheson, during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The boys worked the farm with their father and used whatever spare time they could find for sports and hobbies. Philip was a strong athlete, excelling in basketball and baseball. A star baseball player as a teenager at Norristown High School, where he graduated, Phil had an offer to sign a professional contract in the early 1950s. His father forbade it, believing sports were frivolous and he should work a real job.

Phil lived most of his life in East Norriton Township. He had followed his father-in-law into employment at “the Bell” and began work as a telephone company lineman. He rose through the ranks before retiring in the early 1990s as a service audit executive with Verizon after nearly 40 years with the company.

Phil was as handy with tools as a person could be. He built additions to his home from rustic farmhouse hardwood, helped his children with home-improvement projects of every sort and spent time at home as a craftsman and gardener. Hardly the retiring type, Phil did as much work after leaving Bell as he did working full-time. He was an avid gardener, harvesting, canning and giving away hundreds of pounds of fresh-grown food every season. He was also an accomplished craftsman, especially as a woodworker. He could make anything with wood and delighted in making seasonal ornaments, lawn decorations and gifts intended to be handed down among generations of his cherished family.

Phil was a leader in his community throughout his life, again following his father-in-law as a member at Trinity United Church of Christ in Norristown. He was an active member of the West Norriton Ambucs, a business service club in which he served in every leadership capacity, including president.

Phil was an avid sports fan, the classic Philadelphia “core four” fan, supporting the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers. He liked watching sports of any kind and in the last couple of years was in attendance at soccer games that included his great-grandson. He loved to travel and owned vacation homes in the Poconos and Florida, where he spent winters as a traditional “snowbird.” In typical Phil fashion, he quickly became part of the leadership and eventually president at whatever homeowner association in which he was a member. He made many friends in his vacation homes and quickly became known as the go-to person everyone could rely on.

Phil took many other trips and made the highlight of his travel a luxurious ocean cruise he hosted for his large, extended family. Phil was an animal lover and had dogs most of his life. He spent his later years with his loyal pal, Drake, the mini-poodle.

He is survived by his daughters, Karen Sommerville (Kenneth), of Hampstead, N.C.; Susan Bowerman (Scott) of Chambersburg, Pa.; Kristy Owens (Joseph), of West Deptford, N.J., son Philip “Bo” Matheson Jr., of Sanatoga, Pa., nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and a niece.

His second wife, Regina, died earlier.

Services are private.

Contributions can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, 399 Market St. #250, Philadelphia, Pa., 19106.

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