Memorial Minute for Philip Towle
A birthright Friend, Phillip Allen Towle was born November 23, 1915 in Holden, Massachusetts. He lived his life dedicated to others. At the age of 90 he died peacefully at home in Meredith, New Hampshire following two years of declining health.
A graduate of Albion College in Michigan, Phil became an electrical engineer and a teacher. He was always learning, challenging himself. He started his career at Leeds and Northrup Instrument Company in Philadelphia. At the time he accepted this position he did not know his work was war related. When he learned it was, he resigned and accepted a teaching position at Hinkley School in Maine.
From 1956-1962 Phil taught physics, math, printing and photography in Rindge, NH at Hampshire Country School, a school for children with learning differences. In1962 the entire family moved to Kenya, where Phil served as department chair for physics and math at Chavakali Secondary School, a Quaker school supported by Friends United Meeting. He took a deep interest in the students and often rode his bike to visit their homes – an effort much appreciated by his students.
The Towle family returned to their home in Rindge NH and to Monadnock Meeting, of which they were founding members. Phil continued his career at Crotched Mountain School in Greenfield, NH teaching multiply handicapped students vocational electricity, electronics, wood shop and science. As he had with students in Kenya, Phil took a personal interest, bringing a student home with him for the weekend. He continued to work there into his 80’s.
Phil had a reputation as a man who could fix almost anything. When the Meeting School first opened, Phil helped enormously with roof repair, setting up the water system and extensively rewiring the old buildings. At Crotched Mountain he designed and adapted equipment to allow students mobility and communication. He was infinitely creative, once modifying a wheelchair to accommodate a quadriplegic, who then used a mouth tool to communicate and move his chair.
When Monadnock Meeting bought and first occupied its meetinghouse, Phil made the care of the meetinghouse his mission. He checked on the building daily, keeping a record of the electricity, being sure all lights were off and the doors locked. He held the meeting membership accountable for the stewardship of the property.
Phil was a member and past president of the New Hampshire Memorial Society. Active in New England Yearly Meeting and Northwest Quarterly Meeting, he served on Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel Committee for a number of years. Phil had a deep, gravely voice, full of life and joy. He laughed with a splendid eruption. And he allowed himself to cry, especially when talking of his students. He had the capacity for deep affection and for great sorrow.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Virginia Tripp Towle. They had five children, four of whom survive him: Kevin Towle, Karen Towle, Chandra Engelbert and Hannah Towle-Gossel. One son Glenn died earlier.