MIDDLEBURY — Philip James Pierce, 19, died unexpectedly on January 9 while visiting Boston and intrepidly exploring its neighborhoods. Philip was the cherished son of Elizabeth Gander (Middlebury) and Dean L. Pierce (Shelburne) and the much-loved younger brother of Nellie Pierce.
Philip graduated in 2015 from Middlebury Union High School, where he was a member of the Scholars Bowl team. He briefly attended Sterling College in Craftsbury before returning to his home town. In or out of school, he read voraciously and on a wide range of subjects. Through that reading he regularly—but humbly—amazed members of his family with his encyclopedic knowledge of politics and international affairs. His interest reached beyond mere facts and into the realm of the possible, in detailed simulation games where he constructed speculative histories. His wealth of knowledge filled him with an urgent conviction that we not repeat history, as well as the tremendous and painful sense of responsibility that attends all such efforts to imagine a better world.
Camera-shy and resolutely private, Philip also enjoyed gardening and cooking and regularly sought to understand different cultures through their food. He found special satisfaction tasting and learning about different types of tea and cheese. He also loved caring for his family’s pets and the pets of others. In addition, Philip was and will forever remain his father’s most trusted hiking partner.
Aside from Philip’s sister, parents, and parents’ respective partners, Philip leaves behind his maternal grandmother Isabelle Gander (of Brattleboro); his uncles, aunts, and cousins; and long-time friends including Eric Podraza. Philip was predeceased by his maternal grandfather Roderick M. Gander (Brattleboro) and paternal grandparents Philip M. Pierce and Therese B. Pierce (of Franklin).
No public burial service is planned at this time. The family requests that, in lieu of cards or flowers, donations in Philip’s memory be made to any of the following: Turning Point Center of Addison County; Homeward Bound (Addison County Humane Society); or your favorite international humanitarian organization or charity. Plans for a memorial service may be announced at a later date.