Philip Donovan Chase, 85, of Port Jervis, NY died Tuesday, May 9, 2017. The son of the late Alvin D Chase and Ruth Wiggin Chase, he was born July 31, 1931 in Port Jervis, NY. His father was a Port Jervis high school science teacher and renowned athletic coach, and his influence inspired Philip to win high school athletic recognition on DUSO league championship teams where he quarterbacked the football team, pitched for baseball and also lettered in basketball. He was already showing his community spirit, and represented his classmates as senior class president, graduating from Port Jervis High School in 1950. Phil continued his athletic career in college, quarterbacking and kicking for Cornell University’s Sprint football team. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell, graduating with honors in 1954, and while there met his future wife, the late Merle Root Chase. They married on June 23, 1956, subsequently enjoying forty-seven anniversaries. After several years of ROTC commissioned service for the US Army Corps of Engineering, Phil returned with his family to the Port Jervis area, starting his teaching career at Warwick, NY for two years before transitioning to the Port Jervis school district for 29 years where he chaired the science department, taught high school sciences and coached many successful athletic teams. Phil loved the Port Jervis community and was active serving it throughout his adult life. He and Merle lovingly raised five children in the area. Phil was inducted into the inaugural Port Jervis School District Alumni Hall of Fame.
At Port Jervis, Phil coached many sports including football, baseball, wrestling and golf, while never experiencing a losing season. His modified wrestling team once won 63 straight matches, and provided a very successful feeder system for the high school program. His golf teams once had a streak of 35 straight wins and a 54-1 run including County and Section 9 championships. After retirement, Phil stayed active with golf, marshaling for close to 19 years of NYS Golf Association tournaments, and four US Open golf tournaments. Locally, he was the president of the Hudson River Golf Association for 13 years. He also served as the chairman of the NYS Golf Association for the Hudson Valley Boys and Juniors Qualifier, and for many years co-chaired administration of the annual PJ/DV HS Golf Alumni Tournament. Phil himself was an accomplished golfer, winning numerous tournaments, including the NY state senior championship.
Phil was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed flyfishing and hunting with friends, nephews and cousins, and was an active member of many fishing and hunting organizations. He became a champion for environmental causes, particularly battling to protect the river systems of the Catskills for future generations. Starting in 1965, teaming with wife Merle’s editing and organizational skills, Phil wrote an Outdoors column for the Times Herald Record for 13 years. This served as a launching pad disseminating information for many conservation causes, including battling against Pumped Storage for Storm King Mountain which would have devastated local fish populations, and helping to successfully stop the Tocks Island Dam, allowing the Delaware River to remain free flowing. For a time, Phil worked directly with the NY State DEC and NY City’s DEP engineers to increase NYC reservoir releases, allowing healthier Catskill river flows. He developed a Water Watcher’s program that tested area water systems for pollution levels, encouraging his high school students to participate and become enthused, ultimately resulting in preservation of the health of the Neversink River and other area waterways. As an intervener with the Federal Energy Resource Commission, Phil pushed for Orange and Rockland reservoir releases which gave new life to the Mongaup River. He also served as the local Deerpark representative for the Upper Delaware Council which is in charge of 75 miles of the Delaware River, and helped council a number of organizations involved in water management of the Delaware and Neversink rivers. Over the years, he received numerous awards for his conservation efforts, and his flyfishing and river knowledge developed to such an extent that he was chosen to guide Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter during a local flyfishing trip to the Delaware.
Phil’s survivors include daughter Carol Chase of Port Jervis, NY, sons Robert Chase of Hoboken, NJ, Alvin Chase and his wife Janine of Westtown, NY and Barry Chase and his wife Lori of Cranberry Township, PA, sister Laura Stewart and husband John of Kenedy TX, sister Ruth Greer and husband Robert of Kalispell, MT, sister Dorothy Decker and husband Melvin of Sparrowbush, NY, and grandchildren Alex, Sarah, Erin and Joseph Chase, as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws. He was predeceased by his son Bruce Chase.
Visitation will be on Thursday, May 11, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Knight-Auchmoody Funeral Home, 154 East Main St, Port Jervis, NY.
Funeral services will be held at the United Methodist Church in Sparrowbush on Friday, May 12, at 1:30p.m. Rev. Amy Garrett will officiate.
Burial will be at the Rural Valley Cemetery in Oakland Valley, NY.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make donations to the Port Jervis Educational Foundation, Port Jervis wrestler college scholarship fund, the PJ/DV HS Golf Alumni Tournament scholarship fund, G.A.I.T at PO Box 69, Milford, PA 18337, or any local community organization of their choice. Arrangements are by the Knight-Auchmoody Funeral Home, 154 E. Main St., Port Jervis, NY. For information, directions or to send a condolence note to the family visit knight-auchmoody.com.