February 3, 1935 - May 6, 2017
Philip Lawrence Drew passed away peacefully in his sleep in Apple Valley, CA on May 6, 2017, his strong, steady hands finally at rest after a long life well lived. Phil was born in Chicago, IL on February 3, 1935 to Clifford and Lucille Drew. He was the loving older brother to little sister Linda. The family moved to Pasadena, CA in 1939. As a young man, Phil enjoyed playing football and excelled at the sport, but coaches were disappointed to learn that despite his height and his broad hands, he disliked basketball. He also was an avid ice skater who enjoyed both speed skating and figure skating. Phil felt a military calling early and joined the Civil Air Patrol as a teen, then enlisted in the United States Army in 1953. He met Catherine Ann Buchheit in June, 1958. Cathy was a friend of Linda’s, and her interest was piqued when Linda mentioned she had a brother in the military. Cathy asked for the brother’s address so she could write him, but Linda demurred, believing Cathy wouldn’t like him. Not long thereafter, Cathy called Linda’s house, and Phil answered. They chatted, and he asked her permission to take her out on a date. Just three days later, Phil took a knee on the beach, took Cathy’s hands in his, and proposed. Cathy said yes, and they married in a lovely ceremony three months later, on October 4, 1958. Standing at 6’ 8”, Phil was tall in stature and huge in heart. His hands were large and steady. He could cradle a newborn in his palm, and he’d soon have practice, as he and Cathy welcomed and raised five beautiful children, all of whom spent tender times cradled by Daddy, and of whom Phil and Cathy have always been very proud. Phil served honorably in the military for 22 years, including one tour in Korea and two tours in Vietnam. Phil often told the story which occurred during his second Vietnam tour. Phil was on patrol one day when he happened to take his helmet off, thinking there was no danger nearby. A moment after he put his helmet back on, an enemy round struck his helmet, knocking it back off of his head and into his lap. Phil sent the spent bullet home to his son Scott, explaining to him the importance of the fight against communism, and encouraging Scott to help his mom while Phil was away, serving our country. He began his Army career as an enlisted soldier, transitioned to an officer, and retired as a Major. Serving with distinction, he was awarded a Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster for “Bravery Under Fire”, a Meritorious Service Medal, an Army Commendation Medal with Valor, a Vietnam Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and the prestigious Combat Infantryman Badge. When Phil retired from the Army in 1973, he and Cathy and their children moved to East Liverpool, Ohio to be near Cathy’s family. It was here that Phil taught ROTC at the local high school. This also provided him an opportunity to play basketball against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a fund raising event. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Phil was a Rams fan, and he managed to get himself fouled out of the game while guarding the Legendary Mean Joe Green. It was great fun for him. In 1978, Cathy’s family had moved to Florida so Phil and Cathy moved to Apple Valley as they had remembered how they liked the area when Phil was stationed at Fort Irwin. It was here where Phil began a second career as an architectural draftsman. He designed many homes in the high desert residential area, as well as many commercial buildings. As such, the stamp of his good work will forever be on display in the community of Apple Valley, which he loved so much. One of Phil’s most memorable times, as he has stated, being a career US Army officer and soldier was for him to be able to administer the oath of enlistment and swear four of his five children into the United States Air Force. He was thrilled as this was a continuation of his commitment that he made so many years ago to protect the country that he loved so much. Phil and Cathy lived in the same Apple Valley home from 1979 until the time of his passing. Their home was known to all as welcoming and warm, with good fellowship and delicious dinners served around the couple’s large wooden table in view of a crystal-clear freshwater aquarium filled with a beautiful array of fish. Phil loved to have family in his home, and his hearty laugh would rumble through the place during lively conversations. Younger family members appreciated that Phil had a sweet tooth and always had the best candy stash tucked away, which he was more than happy to share. Everyone remembers the rich comfort of his strong embrace. Visitors also relished good chats on the porch in the evenings, with Phil and Cathy happily snuggled together on the sturdy porch swing they so enjoyed. Here is where friends and family always snapped photos to commemorate the visit. A dynamic member of the Apple Valley community, Phil, with Cathy, was very active in their home church, Our Lady of the Desert, where they served on the church building committee, ran bingo sessions, and coordinated the church festival for many years. Phil also loved his time at the bowling lanes and on the golf course. He never knew a stranger and was always willing to lend a hand to those in need. One of Phil’s lifelong passions was building models. He was able to be incredibly delicate and detail-oriented with his mighty hands, giving shape to intricate models of Army vehicles, pirate ships, riverboats, and airplanes. No detail escaped his discerning eye, and he would do deep dives into research to make sure everything was factually precise. Many of his completed models are on display in his home, and the homes of those he presented his works of art. In his retirement years, Phil enjoyed watching football and reality shows. Besides his beloved Rams, he also rooted for University of Southern California Trojans. Phil also loved reality shows. His favorite was Dancing with the Stars. You could find him sitting in his favorite chair on Monday nights. He’d analyze all of the dances, just like the judges and typically was able to predict who the winners would be, very early in the season. He leaves his fond memories in the hands of his beloved wife of nearly 59 years, Cathy; son Scott Drew and his wife Geneva of Knoxville, TN; daughter Tracy Johnson of Battle Creek, MI; daughter Joanna Rodriguez and her husband John of Shippensburg, PA; son Michael Drew and his wife Rebecca of Apple Valley, CA; daughter Catherine Capps and her husband Lowan of Clanton, AL; and sister Linda Jones of Long Beach, CA. Phil will also be fondly remembered by his 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and friends. He also leaves behind his three cats, Freckles, Patches, and Kagan. Phil was predeceased by his parents, Clifford and Lucille Drew. A celebration of Phil’s life will be held on Friday, May, 26, 2017 at 11am, at Our Lady of the Desert, Apple Valley, CA. (18386 Corwin Rd, Apple Valley, CA 92307) In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Phil’s name to the Army Emergency Relief fund at www.aerhq.org/Donate.
Philip Lawrence Drew passed away peacefully in his sleep in Apple Valley, CA on May 6, 2017, his strong, steady hands finally at rest after a long life well lived. Phil was born in Chicago, IL on February 3, 1935 to Clifford and Lucille Drew.... View Obituary & Service Information
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