One hundred years is a long time to live, but for Phil Chaperon it was barely enough time.
Phil’s life was rich in experiences and relationships. He remained fully engaged in life until just a few days before he peacefully passed away at The Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles, Ore., on Oct. 29, 2020.
Born Sept. 9, 1920, Phil and his younger sister, Mary Ann, grew up in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Portland. They were raised by their mother and paternal grandmother. It was a lively household filled with love and good food. Phil was a Boy Scout and member of Staub Memorial Church. A few years after graduation from Benson High, Phil was drafted into the Army, where he served in the Army Air Corps. Based in the UK, he flew 21 missions as a B-17 waist gunner.
On April 13, 1944, his aircraft was shot down over Germany. Somehow Phil was able to deploy his parachute. He landed on the roof of a barn, was quickly captured and taken to Stalag17B near Krems, Austria. He was held there as a POW for 13 months.
Returning home to his wife, Ann, and daughter, Patricia, in Portland, Phil began his life’s work as a carpenter. Two more daughters, Susan and Linda, rounded out his family. For a man who grew up without a father in his life, he was an amazing dad. The family joined Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church, where Phil took on many leadership roles. Phil and Ann were world travelers and avid ballroom dancers. In retirement, they traveled the state in their RV until Ann’s passing in 2002. They had been married for 59 years.
Phil was “Papa” to seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Phil remained in his Laurelhurst home of 65 years until poor health made it necessary for him to move. In 2018, he chose The Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles so he could live with fellow veterans. Phil’s positive attitude and wonderful sense of humor endeared him to the staff. They became his second family.
At Phil’s request, there will be no memorial service. His 100th birthday celebration in September, an elaborate parade outside the nursing home, was a loving tribute to his remarkable life.