Philip H. CavaliereJune 9, 1935 ~ October 12, 2017 (age 82)
Philip Harry Cavaliere, 82, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Thursday, October 12, 2017, at Abington Memorial Hospital.
He is survived and celebrated by his beloved wife of 58 years, Elaine (Polis) Cavaliere; his son, Michael (Sandy); his daughter, Catherine Caldwell (Scott); his son, Paul (Norma); his daughter, Lorraine Morris (Steven); and his daughter, Karen Zitomer (Nicholas). He was also the treasured Pop-Pop of 11 grandchildren: Alison, Jill, Beth, Dean, Jake, Jenna, Colin, Peter, Melina, Samuel, and William. He is also survived by his brother, John Cavaliere, and was preceded in death by his other siblings, Gino Cavaliere, Steve Tomasetti, and Delores Tomasetti Barrett.
Phil was born in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania, the son of Anselma Pelicotti Cavaliere Tomasetti and Philip Cavaliere Sr. Phil was the third of five children in a large Italian family and spent his childhood in a variety of suburban Philadelphia towns, including Wyncote, Jenkintown, and Glenside, before the family finally settled in Willow Grove. The kind and outgoing disposition that would become his hallmark throughout his life was apparent in his early years, easily winning over many friends at St. David’s School in Willow Grove—many of whom became lifelong companions.
Inspired by his strong desire to serve his country, Phil enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1955. He served in Korea with the 7th Division from 1956 through 1957 and then in the U.S. Army Reserves and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant before his honorable discharge in 1961. Phil celebrated his deep love of country and respect for the Armed Services at every occasion and was well-known to set up patriotic displays of the U.S. flag in his front yard every Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the Fourth of July.
In January 1958, he and Elaine were set up on a blind date through mutual friends. Elaine recalls, “He insisted on seeing a picture of me because he said he’d been ‘burnt too many times before.’” Apparently, he liked what he saw because the date happened, they hit it off, and he proposed in April 1959. In November 1959, Phil and Elaine were married at his childhood parish of St. David’s in Willow Grove. They raised five children in Horsham, Pennsylvania, in a home constantly full of love, support, laughter, delicious food, and memorable holidays. He was a treasured member of his neighborhood, forever striking up lively conversations across fences, delivering gifts and food to front doors, and becoming the unofficial watchdog of his street, always looking out for everyone’s safety.
Phil was employed by Master Etching Inc. in Ambler from 1957 to 1986 as a stockroom supervisor. Once again, he forged many lifelong friendships there. His group of Master Etching buddies started a breakfast club, the “The ROMEOs”—Retired Old Men Eating Out—who has continued to meet for years. Phil was the co-owner, along with Elaine, of P & E Janitorial, from 1973 to 1985. In February 1987, he began working for the Centennial School District, where he would stay until his retirement in 2000. Phil delighted in his job as a building supervisor at Davis Elementary, where along with expertly performing his formal duties he took on some more colorful informal jobs—like dressing up for the students for almost every major holiday in costumes that he would enlist Elaine to make for him—Father Time, the Great Pumpkin, and the Easter Bunny, among other silly characters. Again, not surprisingly, he was the life of the party and brought joy and laughter to all his colleagues and the school’s students.
A lifelong devoted Catholic, Phil was an active and treasured member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Although he was always an involved member of his church community, after he retired in 2000, he was thrilled to be able to spend more time volunteering in service of God and his community as an Altar Server, Eucharistic Minister, Adoration Chapel volunteer, and member of the Church Council. He also achieved the rank of a Third-Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus. After the church was renovated years ago, Phil founded the “Holy Dusters”—a veritable army of volunteers—devoted to keeping the church impeccably clean and beautiful. Phil took great pride in his place of worship, and his dedication to his church community and his great kindness and joy so inspired his fellow parishioners that his friends there dubbed themselves the FOPs, the Friends of Phil.
Phil had amazing culinary talent, and could be found on any given Sunday cooking up an Italian feast for his family as he danced around singing in the kitchen—usually belting out something like Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” his favorite song. He taught his children and grandchildren to make his favorite family recipes—flavors and aromas that have become part of his family’s cherished heritage. Every time one of his kids or grandkids serves up a bowl of his escarole soup or presses their hundredth pizzelle at Christmastime, it will be done and enjoyed in his honor. And they will always make extra to share with friends and neighbors, just as he always did. No one ever went hungry, no one was ever left out when Phil was cooking. Everyone was family, everyone was invited to feast and celebrate life.
Phil’s gregariousness and humor will become legendary. He lived to make other people happy, to right their wrongs, and to inspire them to greater heights. As silly as he could be, he was also an invaluable confidant and trusted advisor and advocate for his family and friends. His sage and thoughtful advice calmed, steadied, and encouraged his loved ones to always do their best for themselves and others. His grandson, Jake Morris, best summed up his profound importance and influence: “He embodies everything we should be as people: He was compassionate, hardworking, loyal, and above all else, loving … We need to follow the example of Philip Harry Cavaliere by loving just as much as he has and by making the world a better place in his name. We’re his legacy, and we’re going to make it worthy of him.”
Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate exceptional life of Phil Cavaliere at his funeral mass on Friday, October 20, 2017, at 11 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 321 Witmer Road, Horsham, PA 19044. A viewing will take place at the church from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Interment to follow in St. John Neumann Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Phil Cavaliere's name to: