Philip Rudolph

Philip Rudolph

To know Phil was to know both a man of faith and a man of science. He could teach you more than one way to tie your shoelaces, but he could also teach you the Latin name for any living creature. He was meticulous and thorough in everything he did. Whether it was maintaining the family cars, working on the house, or answering one of his kids homework questions, one thing was always certain, when he was done, it was done completely and it was done right.

He loved going for long walks in the woods, either to hunt, or more likely, just to absorb nature. As a kid, he would explore the fields around Roslyn. Over the years though, he included both his kids and then his grandkids on his nature walks around Pennypack Nature Preserve. Although sometimes it was just taking a moment to observe nature in his own backyard.

Phil served his community as a scout leader, a church elder, and an advocate for recycling services. In his career, he worked as a contractor as well as a technical director, developing equipment used to control the spread of diseases by mosquitos. A career which led him to become a volunteer for a Lyme disease support group. He would take phone calls, day or night, from strangers needing a bit of hope or a listening ear. He was always there to provide assistance and to acknowledge their pain and frustration.

A few years ago now, a 17-year old Phil met a pretty 16-year old girl named Evelyn in a youth group at his church. He was attracted to her lively dark brown eyes and spirited attitude. 57 years ago this month, the two were married, and their life together took them to Pittsburgh, where he completed his Ph.D. in freshwater ecology; then Somers Point, NJ; and eventually to Willow Grove, PA, where they lived for 34 years.

Phil and Evelyn were blessed with 3 children: David (Lia), Debbie (Dave) Braig, and Becky (Pete) Karabatos; and 3 grandchildren: Zach, Ashton, and Gigi. He is survived by his sister, Marcia Russell (Barry).

Come celebrate 78 great years on Saturday, September 26th, at Daley Life Celebration Studio, Swedesboro, NJ where there will be a noon service. Doors open at 11. Please plan to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.


  1. Becky says:

    Growing up, my friends thought my dad was the smartest guy they knew. He was a professor. Maybe even a rocket scientist. He had things in jars and wrote down his observations in a notebook. They didn’t know anyone else like that.

    Dad was well-spoken and didn’t talk just to fill the silence. All he had to do to convey his disappointment was clear his throat and give us The Look. 

    His Christian faith enhanced his appreciation of the world around him. And what he observed and learned strengthened his appreciation of God.

    I loved when he visited me in California so we could go on walks, and I could see my environment through his eyes. 

    Dad read widely and encouraged us to as well. There were always a variety of magazines around: a weekly for news and current events, something for history and culture, something for nature and science. In the late 1980s, he started bringing home a computer from the office for the family to use. Computers were the future, and he wanted us to learn early. The world was an interesting place, and we should always learn from it. If he saw a hawk or an eagle in the sky, he would slow down so everyone in the car could see it.

    Dad was also funny, in a subtle way – I remember being confused to hear him tell someone on the phone that he didn’t know how to read. My dad had a Ph.D., why would he say that? It was a sales call for a newspaper subscription, and Dad wanted to get back to his dinner. He wasn’t beyond referring to someone as a “weenie” and rolling his eyes at them. When I’d ask where Mom was, he’d reply “It wasn’t my turn to watch her”. He always smiled a little and shrugged his shoulders with that one, pleased with himself for giving Mom a few more seconds of peace.  

    Most of all, I think of Dad as a giving person. His humor wasn’t delivered for an audience. I don’t recall him ever asking for anything. He was happy to be left alone for stretches of time. He never fussed that his birthday, on Christmas Eve, was overshadowed by the frenzy of last minute holiday preparations. I once asked him about it, and he said it was more important to him to celebrate Jesus’s birthday.

    I’ve been missing Dad for a while now. In recent years, it became frustrating for him to express his thoughts on the topics we’ve discussed at the kitchen table for decades – disease, climate change, social and political shifts. I’ve missed those conversations. Instead, our time together had been made up of little moments: helping him get his socks and shoes on, or laughing together at the turkeys in the road while out for a walk around the neighborhood.    

    While preparing to become parents earlier this year, my husband and I encountered the predictable new-parent anxieties. We diligently researched what car seat to buy and how to prepare the nursery. We realized that we needed to ground ourselves in what mattered most to us. So I got out an easel pad and some colored pencils. We listed, sorted, and rated the values of our childhoods. We reflected on what we wanted for our baby.

    Here’s some of what I learned from Dad:

    Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s ok to leave or walk away.

    Work hard and persevere. When you fall off the monkey bars, get right back up there and try again.

    Be firm but be fair. Be willing to listen and possibly change your mind.

    Take care of the environment. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.

    Observe nature. Spend time outside every day.

    And don’t ever forget that squirrels are just rodents with fluffy tails.

  2. Perry Phillips says:

    As one who worked w/ Phil, I can attest to everything Becky has related about her dad. Phil and I had a very close working relationship developing and testing insect sprayers.

    My background is astronomy, but w/ Phil’s guidance, I was able to “get down to earth” and understand what had to be done, for Phil was not only a good scientist/engineer, he was also a very good “explainer” and a communicator. I learned so much from him, especially the importance of taking good notes, for which Phil was fastidious.

    And the latter did not stop w/ the testing. Phil encouraged me to take notes on all phone calls I made just to be sure, if necessary, I had a written record of the conversations lest any controversy arise. I still have a notebook (actually, I’ve gone thru several) on my desk that I use for just about every phone conversation—even simply asking if a shop has a product on hand. I have gone back many times to these notes to refresh my memory of various calls all the while thanking Phil for his advice.

    On another matter, I remember when I was asked by our boss to call various companies to gather information about a laser cutter. I was nervous at first, so I asked Phil how to go about not sounding like a moron on the phone when discussing something I did not know. “Well,” he said, “first find a few articles on the subject, take notes, think of questions to ask, and go for it. Besides,” he continued, “after a few discussions w/ salespeople, you’ll find that you will know more about the technology than the salespeople.” His advice, as always, was excellent. Very soon, and w/ great equanimity, I called industry leaders in laser cutters with whose salespeople I had enjoyable conversations.

    Phil and I not only had a love for engineering and for the natural sciences, we also had a common Christian faith that bonded us together as brothers in Christ. We would spend as much time discussing biblical passages and how to apply biblical truths to life as we would spend time discussing our latest lab results. There were never times of silence when we were together, especially when we ate lunch outside. We could always point to something occurring around us (like whether that black bird flying over us was a raven or a vulture), or to a biblical passage one of us was pondering, or to our reaction to a news item that caught our attention, or laugh together at jokes.

    I have many fond memories of Phil, and I’m glad I was able to see him a few years ago on a trip to the Philadelphia area.

    I’m comforted by the fact that Phil is resting peacefully in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and may the same peace that surpasses all understanding be w/ all of you.

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