Mr. Eugene Ivins Pharo Jr., 69, died Feb. 1, 2021, at the Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, of COVID-related conditions.
Gene used to say he should have been born in another century. His family hailed from Pennsylvania Dutch country (mother Grace), England and Wales (father Ivins), moving to the U.S. in the 1600s. He was an avid outdoorsman, duck hunter, fisherman, and excellent carpenter. A lifelong native of Beach Haven, N.J., Gene had planned on making his life on the water and owned a net boat for a period. As a youngster he clammed the bay and explored the Sedge Islands by rowboat or sneakbox. He had been known to skip school on occasion in hunting season, sometimes accompanied by one of his teachers.
But time and tide changed the life of the bay and Gene turned to carpentry, learning from his dad and others. He worked on LBI for decades, then in Local 2018 of the Carpenters and Millwrights Union.
Friends have said, “Gene was a great friend to many. He will long be remembered in many stories, a wonderful man” … “A serious historian, both local and general. Lived by his principles, both based in the past and on the Golden Rule” … “His son and I share the same birthday. I will always have great memories of Gene. He made sure we turned out to be good men.” … “A willing helper when it came to getting things done … born and raised here he saw the good, the bad, the storms, the crazy summers” … “He would eat huge chowder clams I brought him on the half-shell … never saw that done before.” “Gene’s excellent Manhattan clam chowder was never, in his opinion ‘clammy enough.’” His first fishing trip at 3 years old was cut short when he ate all the bait clams.
Gene was a born storyteller. The way he recalled events of years past was most enlightening but didn’t tend to make it into the books.
Pegged as a lifelong bachelor, Gene and his wife, Sharon, were together 38 years. He was thrilled at the birth of his son Sam (”He’s a keeper!”) and delighted as Sam and Melissa’s family grew to include Adam and Lia.
Gene’s sister, Jill, said, “Gene and I disagreed on a great many things, but we were always close, never argued about the very important or very trivial things in life, and we often shared intuitions in some pretty uncanny ways.”
Sharon said, “Our views on politics and some other issues were often polar opposites but our love was steadfast. We both loved exploring remote roads from the New Jersey Pine Barrens to the far north woods in New Hampshire, observing wildlife and new vistas. Gene had hoped to do a cross-country trip but it wasn’t to be.”
His sister-in–law, Sally, said, “Gene did not dabble. When he took on a project you could be sure there would be no short-cuts. When he loved, he loved deeply – his family most of all (but his Brittanys were not far behind.)”
Gene fought passionately to protect the character of his native town and island against the tides of money and development. In time, he and his wife, Sharon, and sister, Jill, were ready to leave the 93-year-old homestead they shared and head south. The Eastern Shore still holds many of the beauties that his home once did. Though he joined some old friends down here and met some new ones, he’s headed to other shores now.
“Gene was 100%. Now he’s 100% energy. And energy is forever.”
Survivors include his wife, Sharon K. Osborn, of Onancock; a son, Sam Osborn Pharo, and wife, Melissa, of Chalfont, Pa.; two grandchildren, Adam and Lia; a sister, Jill A. Pharo, of Jensen Beach, Fla.; a sister-in-law, Sally Lavalle, of Tabernacle, N.J.; and many cousins throughout the U.S.
Sometime in a safer future, when family and friends can gather together they will scatter his ashes in a favorite fishing spot in New Jersey.