PHILIP J. MOHAN III
In the early morning of June 28 Philip John Mohan died peacefully in his sleep at home. He was 89 years old. Phil was a wonderful husband, father, sportsman, and beloved professor and friend.
Phil was born prematurely as the only child to Kathryn Boyda Mohan and Philip J. Mohan II in Queens, New York on June 19, 1934. Although the hospital nuns gave him little chance of survival, Kathryn wa determined not to give up on him, and she kept him warm in a dresser drawer by the stove. He survived and grew up as a child playing games of stick ball and “Ride the Pony” on the streets of New York City, which put him in constant danger of being hit by cars. He attended PS5 through the 6th grade, though for junior high his mother who was by then divorced sent him to St. John’s School, a Catholic boarding school in Peapack, New Jersey. As he often recalled, it was a place run by both strict Italian nuns, as well as more compassionate American nuns. He had fond memories of his time there. Returning to Queens, he attended Salesian High School in the Bronx. In 1948, his mother married Edwin Beebe, and in 1950 they packed everything they owned into a moving van and headed to Southern California. Taking two weeks, they endured numerous breakdowns while driving through unfamiliar weather and terrain, all of which made for numerous entertaining stories Phil would later share.
Phil finished High School at Cantwell High School in Montebello, where he was mistaken for a New York gangster on the first day because of his suit and tie. After graduating at 15 he worked a series of low-level jobs, taken only to finance cars and their repair—a passion that would stick with him to the end. At his job in a foundry, he met a Hungarian refugee, who recognized Phil’s intellect. He encouraged Phil to go to college. After two starts at Citrus Junior College in Glendora, California, Phil discovered a love of learning, especially in the field of philosophy. His hand/eye coordination -- honed by stick ball in New York -- transferred to baseball at Citrus College, which led to his recruitment by Redlands University, on an athletic scholarship, where he completed his BA in Philosophy and Psychology in 1957. Unfortunately, he lost his scholarship when he was caught participating in a panty-raid in the girls’ dorms!
Phil was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, and he was very proud to have served. He often reminisced in later years about his two years of active service and his succeeding years in the national guard. After his discharge, Phil pursued a graduate degree at Claremont Graduate School and received a Ph.D. in Psychology in the summer of 1967. The following year, he had a post-doctorate fellowship at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, working with leaders in that field.
On July 30, 1966 in Claremont California, Phil married Charlotte Hayes, who he had met at a Christmas party. The couple honeymooned at a dude ranch in Saddle String, Wyoming, where cowboy life was an adventure for these two city kids!
After completing his postdoctoral fellowship, Phil accepted an assistant professor position in psychology at Humboldt State College in Arcata, CA. Their first child, Kathryn (Kasia), was born there in 1969. In 1971, Phil accepted an assistant professor position in psychology at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. Phil always thought the move to Idaho was a lucky break. Although it took a while to adjust to small town life, he grew to love Moscow and the University. He was a faculty member there for 28 years. Phil was an animated, funny, and popular professor who was known to be a hard grader. Many former students fondly remember his child development classes. Just after the inception of the medical education program at UI/WSU, known as WWAMI, Phil began teaching “Systems of Human Behavior” to medical students. His teaching and student interaction in both the psychology and WWAMI programs were his greatest joy.
Phil and Charlotte settled into active lives in the Moscow community. Their son, John was born in Moscow in 1972. Phil played softball well into his 50s, coached Babe Ruth teams, played golf as often as possible, loved going to Washington/Idaho Symphony, U of I Auditorium Chamber Music concerts, and enjoyed many great movies at the Kenworthy. He had a wide range of musical tastes and would often sing a different song to Charlotte each morning. He loved cars, had owned many, and was always on the lookout for the next one. On their 25th anniversary, Charlotte gave him a silver ring which had the image of a raven carved into it. Phil liked the symbolism of the raven: handsome, intelligent, and a trickster. Maybe that describes him, as well.
Phil is survived by his wife, Charlotte, his daughter, Kathryn (Kasia) Mohan McDonald and son-in-law, Russell McDonald of Oakland, CA, and his son, John Mohan and daughter-in-law, Christina Gier of Edmonton, Alberta. He was preceded in death by his mother, step-father and father.
A graveside service followed by a gathering will be held at a later time to which family and friends will be warmly welcomed. If you would like to honor Phil with a donation ,we suggest the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre (www.kenworthy.org/donate) or Auditorium Chamber Music Series (www.uidaho.edu/class/acms/donate)