The Rev. Dr. Philip Zebley passed into eternal glory on March 9, 2018 at the Rydal Park Presbyterian retirement home in Rydal, Pa. He was born on May 25, 1931 in Appleton, Cecil County, Md., and raised on the family dairy farm. He graduated from Elkton High School in 1948 and attended the University of Delaware at Newark, majoring in agricultural sciences. In 1950, he transferred to Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn., where he met Maryalice “Trig” (Moyer) Zebley, his cherished wife and life partner. Phil and Trig were married on June 25, 1954 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Mifflintown, Pa. They enjoyed 64 years of marriage together.
Phil graduated from Maryville College in 1952 with a B.A. in History. He then attended Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pa., and graduated with the Master of Divinity in 1955. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on June 1, 1955 by Marion Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. He then faithfully served five Presbyterian congregations in Huntsville, Ohio, East Orange, N.J., Huntsville, Ala., Wilmington, Del., and Saranac Lake, N.Y., between 1955-78. In 1978, he served as an area counselor for the Presbyterian Major Mission Fund in southern Indiana and Illinois. From 1979-87, he was the Executive Presbyter of Grafton and Parkersburg Presbyteries in West Virginia. From 1987-1990, he served as the Executive Presbyter of Mackinac Presbytery in northern Michigan. From 1990-92, he served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Senecaville, Ohio.
He retired to “Morganwood” in 1991 and enjoyed twenty years in this vibrant community of retired Presbyterian pastors and mission workers located in Swarthmore, Pa., adjacent to Swarthmore College. Phil and Trig enjoyed much fellowship at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. He also served as interim pastor of five congregations in the Philadelphia Presbytery during this time. In 2011, the Zebleys moved to the Rydal Park retirement home.
During his years of pastoring, Phil was also a lifelong student who worked diligently to earn a Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1970, followed by a Doctorate in the Science of Theology (S.T.D.) at SFTS through distance learning and several summers in residence at San Anselmo, Calif. These three summers of study residence in Northern California are a beloved memory of the family. Phil was a lover of people and truly enjoyed engaging people in the communities he served. He was a leader in community service and an advocate for local and international missions. In Saranac Lake, N.Y., he worked to create a non-profit carpentry training program for Vietnam Veterans called “TIHI: Training in Home Improvement.” During his retirement years, he was very involved in Habitat for Humanity, International, serving both as a resident volunteer at the HFH headquarters in Americus, Ga., participating in a mission trip to Central America and serving as the office development and manager for Delaware County Habitat for Humanity between 1996-97. He loved reading, travel and was a consummate gardener.
He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years Maryalice “Trig” Zebley; daughter Cosette (Tom) Kilfoyle and son Rev. Christian (Kay) Zebley; and eleven grandchildren: Matthew (Tania) Frieswyk, Nathan (Devon) Frieswyk, and Jonathan Frieswyk; Rebecca Kilfoyle and Samuel Kilfoyle; and Anna, Emma, Kristina, Isaiah, Abigail and Molly Zebley. Phil was predeceased by his brothers Edgar Zebley and Frank Zebley, and his eldest daughter Consquella (Zebley) Frieswyk.
A committal service for close friends and family was held at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 10 a.m. A public memorial service will be held at later date and time to be announced.
Memorial donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties at www.habitatmontdelco.org. Condolences may be sent to Helweg and Rowland funeral home in Abington, Pa., www.helwegrowlandfh.com.