Master plumber, hot air balloonist and artist, Philip H. Pressler, of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, died at the age of 90, on June 17, 2021, while at home, surrounded by loved ones.
Born on March 12, 1931, son of late Howard and Alice (Buehler) Pressler, Philip (“Phil”) was a 1950 graduate of Hollidaysburg Area High School and a graduate of the Dale Carnegie School. In 1959, he earned a state license in plumbing by completing a course, sponsored jointly by the national, state and local associations of master plumbers, the PA Department of Labor and Industry, and the vocational trades department of the Altoona School District. At the time, Phil was the only plumber in Central Pennsylvania to complete this five-year course and be certified by the state department.
Phil completed the class held by Deming Pump Company of Salem, Ohio, for commercial and domestic pumping systems, and was a graduate of the modern heating course program, sponsored by the Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers of Pittsburgh. In 1956, while touring Europe, Phil spent considerable time among German, French and Swiss tradespeople studying their practices.
Phil worked with his father and uncle at their family business in Hollidaysburg: Pressler Plumbing & Heating, established in 1915. If you own a historic home in the area, your plumbing may have first been installed by the Presslers, or perhaps you’re displaying beautiful stained glass artwork or oil paintings Phil created. He wasn’t only known as a hard worker in his trade. Phil used his artistic flair to create masterpieces and remodel his own historic home.
An avid balloonist, Phil piloted a Don Piccard balloon he designed himself and named “Rainbow.” Many of Phil’s flights made the news as spectators witnessed the beauty of the balloon overhead. He was also recognized in 1968, when he helped inflate Bob Trauger’s smoke balloon at the mall in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution for the opening of the Cherry Blossom Festival. At the time, Rainbow was among the first 21 hot air balloons in the United States, and later would be painted into scenes of two Hollidaysburg building murals.
Phil was a member of Juniata Lodge 282 and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the Hollidaysburg Jaycees, he proudly helped construct the star atop Chimney Rocks and Jaycee Park on Juniata Street. When not ballooning and painting, Phil loved to ski and make homemade wine, jelly and sauerkraut. Phil was married to Nancy (Jodon) for 47 years, to whom he proposed marriage on a billboard that he painted, located near the Juniata bridge in Altoona. (If you had the opportunity to speak to this inseparable, always-affectionate couple, you surely heard about that story!)
Phil is survived by his wife Nancy; son Erik of Montreal; daughter Andrea (Pressler) Rogers, son-in-law Chris, grandchildren Jacob and Alice of Duncansville; three close sisters-in-law; and 10 nieces and nephews and their extended families. He was preceded in death by a sister, Marion Joan Pressler.
A favorite quote of Phil’s, coined by Henry Ford: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” If anything can be learned from that and the way Philip Pressler lived his life, it’s that you should always remember the importance of working hard and that adding a dash of color can make all the difference. Live life to its fullest.
Friends will be received from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 21, 2021, at Sorge Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., 422 North Juniata Street, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648, where a funeral service will immediately follow.
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