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Philip Thomforde ( Missoula 1945 )

posted: Sep 8, 2010

Phil, 89, died Feb. 23, 2010, in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. He was born December 9, 1920, in Maulton, PA. the third of six children in a Quaker family. He graduated from Penn State University in 1942 with a degree in agriculture and registered as a conscientious objector when World War II broke out.

That led to alternate service, including a one-year stint as a smokejumper in Missoula where he got 16 jumps during the 1945 season. Phil later worked in mental hospitals for war veterans in Philadelphia and was shocked by the conditions he saw. He spent two months on Welfare Island near New York City, eating sea biscuits and drinking salt water as part of a research project by the Army, causing damage to his teeth that lasted the rest of his life.

In 1946-48 Phil served in China for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. He met his wife, Winnie in China They settled in Pennsylvania; he taught agriculture to high school students. He worked for UNESCO in Iran in 1956 as an agricultural advisor, moving to Italy in 1959 while working for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, a post he held for 22 years while visiting more than 70 countries. Phil retired in 1982 to Pleasant Hill where he served a four-year term as mayor.

He and his wife went back to China 1985-86 at volunteer teachers at the Nanjing Agricultural University.