Phillip Ray Maher, formerly of Salineville, passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in Kalamazoo on February 14, 2017 at the age of 90. Phil was the son of Philip and Maude (Liggett) Maher and was born in Salineville on July 27, 1926.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Audrey (Bates) and two lovely daughters, Sandra (John) Whelan of St. Charles, Illinois. and Jeanna (Greg) Ketchum of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Audrey and Phil were blessed with 7 fabulous grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren with a fifth expected in May.
Phil was an avid fisherman, a 60 year member of the Masonic Lodge, proud Irishman, great teacher, communicator and administrator plus a World War II veteran. Phil served in the amphibious division of the Navy from 1944 to 1946. Upon discharge, he lived with his aunt in Canton and attended Kent State University. He opted to return to Salineville to work as a telegraph operator and director of train movement/dispatch for the Pennsylvania railroad in Bayard.
He met the love of his life in November, 1949 at the Summitville St. John’s Parish when she was playing a hot saxophone in a dance band. Phil was immediately smitten and won a $10 bet by being able to escort Audrey home that night. Audrey was attracted to his good looks and keen Irish wit, but had to teach him how to dance. They were engaged 6 months later and married August 12, 1950.
Phil continued to work the afternoon shift at the railroad while attending and graduating from Mount Union. Later in life, he would earn his Master’s degree from Westminister and Doctorate degree from Akron – all while working full time. Phil taught Chemistry & Physics at Leetonia and worked as an administrator in Wellsville & Carrollton. He retired as Superintendent of the Wellsville School District in 1986. He was also a lifelong member, Deacon and Elder of the Salineville Church of Christ.
After retiring, Phil and Audrey fulfilled a life-long dream to live in Alaska, where they were able to enjoy the pristine beauty and outstanding fishing, highlighted by landing a 72 pound halibut. After four years, they moved to Massillon where they lived for 27 years before relocating to a lakefront condo in Portage/Kalamazoo Michigan for the last four years. Through all of their journeys , Phil would often say there were no people more generous or nicer than the great people of the Ohio Valley-and he dreamed of those special food delicacies!
Phil enjoyed teaching grandkids how to ‘land the big one’ and thought that any water spot had ‘promise’ for great fishing. He also taught them many Irish phrases with a favorite being an Irish Blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warmly on your face
And may the rain fall softly on your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand!
Phil will be resting looking out over the hills in the Salineville Woodland Cemetery. As he requested, there were no services. If you wish to reach out to Audrey, her mailing address is 7538 Woodbridge Lane Portage, Michigan 49024. Please direct any memorial donations to the school of your choice to help develop our future stars.