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A longtime resident of Hamilton, NY, Philip M. Bisselle, 87, passed away peacefully on April 5th at home, surrounded by his loving wife, Holly and his children.
Philip was born on March 6, 1936, in New York City, NY, to the late Morgan F. Bisselle and Lucille “Sue” (Marks) Bisselle.
After brief stops in Brooklyn, NY and Cortland, NY, Phil’s family settled and made their home in New Hartford, NY, where he spent his happy childhood.
He spent many summers at Camp Dudley, on Lake Champlain, where Phil “Lefty” and his brother Terry “Righty” enjoyed manyexperiences and left a lasting impression on their character, guided by Camp Dudley’s motto, “The Other Fellow First”.
Phil was a standout citizen, scholar and athlete at New Hartford High School, graduating in 1954 with many accolades in and out of the classroom. He was a “team-first” person and took great pride in the multiple championships that his football, basketball and baseball squads enjoyed during those years.
Phil earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Colgate University in 1958 and 1959, where he was a member of Phi Gam Fraternity. He starred as the captain of the basketball team during his senior year, finishing among the leading scorers in school history upon graduation. In 1959, he was drafted by both the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks and the US Army, where he served in the Signal Corp at Fort Monmouth, NJ until 1961. During his military service, Phil was selected to play for the Fort Monmouth NJ Post basketball team and was invited to try out (in San Francisco, CA) for the 1960 US Olympic basketball team.
Shortly thereafter, Phil returned to New Hartford to teach American History and coach basketball at New Hartford Central School (1961-64). During this time, Phil met and fell in love with a fellow educator, Holly Spear, who was also teaching in the New Hartford school system. They were married in 1962 at the First Presbyterian Church in Utica, NY and recently celebrated their 60th anniversary!
Phil was then appointed Associate Director of Admissions at Colgate University in 1964 and worked in this role until 1970 during which time he was instrumental in implementing co-education at Colgate, beginning in the fall of 1969. Phil and Holly enjoyed those early years living in Hamilton, where they made many lifelong friends.
After an enjoyable stretch in Ithaca, NY, during which time (1970-77) Phil worked as Director of Freshman Financial Aid at Cornell University, Phil and Holly moved to Canton, NY. Phil was appointed Director of Financial Aid at St. Lawrence University in 1977 and served until his retirement in 1997. The 20 years in Canton were happy, fulfilling ones for the entire Bisselle family. During this period, Phil was a mainstay in the community, taking on leadership roles for several not-for-profit organizations including, Rotary (Phil was honored with the Paul Harris Award for distinguished service), United Helpers Nursing Home, Canton Board of Education, First Presbyterian Church and Camp Dudley. He was highly regarded for his dependability, integrity and fair-mindedness.
Phil and Holly’s return to Hamilton in 1999 for their retirement years, was a homecoming of sorts, picking up where they left off with many friends around town, enthusiastically supporting Colgate's sports teams and cultural events again, and fully immersing themselves in the many wonderful community resources Hamilton has to offer. In addition to his volunteer work at the First Baptist Church, Community Memorial Hospital and Madison Lane Senior Center, Phil relished having more time for tennis, bridge, travel and his prized English Dinky car collection. Like his father before him, Phil preferred small town living to that of city life. It is only fitting, then, that 14 East Pleasant Street in Hamilton has been home for the extended Bisselle family since 1973.
Phil was well known by all as a true gentleman, friendly to all and the kindest of souls. He was a gifted athlete in basketball, baseball and tennis and enjoyed watching a variety of sports. He had an amazing recall for sports statistics and game highlights. He had a deep commitment to his family and his lifelong friends. He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather and will be missed for his kind smile, good nature and steadfast example.
Phil is survived by the love of his life of 60 years, Holly, his three children, Wendy Wark of Colchester, VT, Andrew Bisselle, and his wife Diana of Lakeville, CT, Thomas Bisselle and his wife Julie of Elizabethtown, NY, his brother Walter Bisselle of Venice, FL, and grandchildren, Caitlin and Amanda Wark, Lucille and Agnes Bisselle, Nina Imperatore, Skylar, Sydney and Solon Bisselle, and Liz Poe.
A memorial service, with military honors, will be held at the First Baptist Church on Saturday, May 6th at 11 am. The family will receive friends beginning at 10 am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the William J. Schmidt Scholarship Fund at Camp Dudley, 126 Camp Dudley Road, Westport, NY, 12993 or The First Baptist Church, 27 Broad Street, Hamilton, NY, 13346. The family would like to extend special thanks to the amazing dialysis team in Hamilton, NY and wonderful caregivers at Hospice & Palliative Care Inc.
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Eastern time)
First Baptist Church
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