Kermit C. Phillips, son of the late Clifford T. Phillips and Bessie W. C. Phillips, and brother of Velma W. Phillips all of Red Hook, passed on from this life to life eternal on May 12, 2012, Apple Blossom Day.
Many people mourn the loss of Kermit who was not only part of history having lived to that wonderful age of 90 years but he was a friendly fellow who touched the hearts of each one he met. He was born on April 22, 1922 and grew up living and working on the family owned Phillips Fruit Farm east of the village. This farm included violet houses, poultry, some dairy animals, and many beloved pets.
Kermit graduated from elementary school where he attended a one room school house. Miss G. Losee was his teacher for eight years. Kermit then attended Red Hook Central School and his class was one of the very first to graduate from that school in 1939. While in high school, Kermit was selected by Lucky Platt & Company to be Vice President for a day. He also was the male lead in his senior play and participated in many school activities. After graduation he became a full time farmer, working on the Phillips Fruit Farm where he and his father participated in the wartime effort by producing food for the armed services. After a number of years the Phillips farm was sold and the family moved to a remodeled home located in the village of Red Hook on North Broadway, presently beside the Red Hook Post Office.
Kermit joined the United States Army where he attended and graduated from the Criminal Investigation School, Carlisle Barracks, PA. He received an honorable discharge from the Army in 1948. He was a Charter Member number 7373888 of the World War II Veterans Memorial, which is America’s National memorial to those who helped win World War II.
Soon after his Army discharge he entered New York University and graduated with a B.S. degree having completed a four year course in two years and nine months. Let’s pause for a moment to say Kermit was a Mason and a member of the Hendrick Hudson Lodge 875. He was also an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, not only in attendance but, he was the secretary of the Lutheran Brotherhood and secretary of the Lutheran Church Council. He was often selected to be an usher, and greeter, etc. In his travels he always tried to find a church he could attend on Sunday mornings.
After he graduated from New York University he acquired a market research job with a well known large corporation in Midland, Michigan. He worked as a research analyst for the Dow Chemical Company. In fact, one of Kermit’s research reports enabled Dow Chemical Company to build a Caustic Soda Plant in Texas! After an unpleasant confrontation that involved his boss who was the son-in-law of the President of Dow, Kermit left the company! He tried to acquire research jobs with numerous companies in numerous states but continued to get only refusals. Kermit was a gentleman and never said a word about what took place in Michigan but he was surmised he was getting a bad reference through no fault of his own! No company was going to provide any information especially if they were doing business with Dow. Finally, Kermit acquired a job and became a senior research analyst for a small company in New York City. The company went out of business so the search began again. His boss gave him a good reference and he became a research director for a publishing company. Unfortunately, that job too was short lived! Kermit became very discouraged and returned to Red Hook. This never ending traumatic experience was causing him to become very depressed! At times he wanted to just give up! The whole family was hurting in many different ways emotionally and in financial way. This turmoil lasted for too many years! In the meantime, Universal Builders arrived in Red Hook. Kermit decided to apply for a job and the only available job was as a yard laborer. He decided to take it! He was hired and the job included a lot of very hard work but he stayed with it and made new friends who often praise him for his ambition and very neat work. Kermit was thrilled when he heard Universal Builders was selected to help with the refurbishing project for the Statue of Liberty. Kermit worked on parts and he worked on scaffolding that was used to complete the project. The Statue of Liberty was a success! He was proud.
Through the years, Kermit sustained many and various types of injuries that caused a lot of pain and as he grew older the suffering increased. He found comfort in being generous and contributing to needy organizations located all over! He enjoyed his thank you letters and looked forward to seeing the postman arrive during his retirement years. He became very interested in helping animals and wrote many letters to help prevent some of the cruelty that takes place in all parts of the world as well as right here in the United States. As time went on Kermit brought many adorable cats in the house and they do enjoy peeking out of the windows. Kermit would buy food for the cats, for the birds, for the squirrels, and for stray does, possums etc, etc. In jest, his sister Velma called their Fraleigh Street home, “Whisker Puss Lodge.”
Memorial donations may be made in Kermit’s memory to: Kermit’s Animal Fund, Post Office Box 14, Red Hook, NY 12571 as well as The Dutchess County SPCA, 636 Violet Ave., Hyde Park, NY 12538.
Graveside services with Military Honors, as well as a Masonic Service will be held at 2:00 pm on Thursday May 17th, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Red Hook, NY. There will be no calling hours.
Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes 7461 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY.
For directions, or to sign the online guest book, please visit www.Burnett-White.com.