Port Norris Legends

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Legends of Port Norris

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Dominick Capaldi

Clyde A. Phillips
December 11, 1933

Clyde was born on December 11, 1933 in the little old brick hospital in Bridgeton. His working life started in Millville at one of the Bond Stores for 50 cents an hour. His first real money making job was in his Junior year in High School when he borrowed $26,000 to buy three oyster grounds and a forty five foot oyster boat. He sent it up the bay for seed oysters in May and June with a hired captain. In the two month season the business was paid off and some of the money was banked. After graduation he went in business with his father, Capt. Clyde A. Phillips. From there, and after his marriage to his college sweetheart, Mary Giles from Deep Step, GA, he joined the Regular Army and was stationed in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. He served three years on active duty as a medical laboratory technician, three years in a reserve unit in Ohio, and another year on extended duty, inactive, during the Cuban missile crisis. He was then working for Stowman Shipyard where he worked as a workboat carpenter and chief of the scrapping and scrubbing crew on newly hauled boats. He became the tugboat captain, delivery captain, a mill hand, and boat planker, and then he moved into the Newporter crew that built forty foot sailboats. He soon was running the plywood shop where he made large sheets out of small sheets, the biggest was ten feet wide by one hundred feet long. He also built the masts, booms and bowsprits and much of the framing. He soon became the rigger. This job required the making of all the rope and cable rigging, attaching the rigging to the masts, then stepping the masts and tuning the rigging, bending on the sails, then taking the boat for a trial sail. He also was for over 13 years the research vessel captain at Rutgers University’s Oyster Research Lab, where he also was a marine biologist basically studying the oysters in the Bay. His big scientific goal is to photograph a few Wilson’s Petrels--little sea birds that winter offshore of New Jersey during our summer (they nest on the southern end of South America during our winter). No scientific study records the ability of this specie to walk on the water, but he and his father (separately) have witnessed the feat.

His other life was entirely different in that he had to become a people person. He was called to the position of pastor of many of the South Jersey United Methodist churches. He started out in a three point circuit, serving three small country churches in the Jersey Pines. In short order he served a variety of appointments, his second being the associate pastor of the second largest church in the southern half of the state, this was followed by a small town church and then he became the lead pastor of a four church charge with a student pastor as assistant. And so it went, preaching the Gospel, leading people to the Lord, teaching Bible Studies and Sunday School classes, all helping people to know the glory of the Love of God. During this time his wife Mary started a mission to educate the children of Haiti, a country that is the poorest in the western hemisphere. He helped in this as the mission supplied about 5000 school uniforms, needed because the nations of the Caribbean require the children to wear uniforms to school; no uniform, no schooling. Then after five or so years the call came from Haiti for supplies for the schools. The mission then grew to include all of the conference which by then covered the entire state of New Jersey, the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and a healthy slice of the state of New York. Several tons of supplies were collected and shipped to Haiti by this mission.

Clyde has been a long time member of the Port Norris Rotary (37 years), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (44 years), and the Experimental Aircraft Association (33 years), and by a miracle of timing he became the Number One member of the then “Schooner Clyde A. Phillips, Inc.” organization and still spends a lot of time there, he says, in correcting their mistakes, though he is a strong supporter of their work and rejoices in it. To celebrate the Scottish heritage of both Clyde and his long time wife (of now 62 years) they both are Life Members of the Clan Anderson Society.

His look into his future finds him passing from the shores of the River Maurice to the Shores of Glory where he hopes David will allow him to play that Golden Harp after he takes leave of this earth on July 7, 2039.

This is just a wee bit of the life of this Living Legend, and shows a wee bit of his joys.

Thank you. – Rev. Dr. Lewis Hiserote of First Methodist Church of Millville

Dominick Capaldi
Clyde looking for eagles at the Thompson Beach observation deck. He spends many hours doing this with his wife Mary. Just one of their favorite spots.

Dominick Capaldi
And we were not disappointed.

Dominick Capaldi

Legends Dinner 2017

Dominick Capaldi
Meghan Wren presents the Legends Award to Clyde Phillps.

Dominick Capaldi
Clyde A. Phillps with his wife Mary and family.


Photos: Rachel Cobb

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