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Philip Temple

Dentist, former member of Finance and School committees, lover of the outdoors

Phil Temple. (Courtesy photo)

Philip “Phil” Birtwell Temple, 82, of Pepperell died peacefully on the morning of Dec. 11, 2020, in his home, with his family and supported by hospice.

Phil was born Feb. 20, 1938, in Woburn, the son of John and Kathleen (Birtwell) Temple. The oldest of four children, he grew up in Lynnfield, later moving to Leominster where he attended junior and senior high school. After attending Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Phil studied at The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Graduating with a D.D.S., he joined the U.S. Army as a captain in the dental corps, stationed at Fort McPherson, Atlanta, Georgia.

Phil practiced dentistry in Harvard, where he was a member of both the Finance and School committees, and where his sons, Mark and Jonathan, grew up. The family later moved to Pepperell, where he had a dental practice from which he retired.

Phil loved the outdoors, including hiking, sailing, and camping. As a youth he spent summers messing about with boats at Little Neck, Ipswich, and for many summers with his family enjoying Squam Lake. He attended William Lawrence Camp in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire, as a camper and counselor, where he met his wife of 57 years, Diane (Powers) Temple. They shared a love of nature together, camping, kayaking, bird-watching, and exploring with their family across the United States and Canada’s Maritime Provinces. For many years, photography was a special focus for Phil, especially after his retirement. He was a member of the Forum, a Nashua, New Hampshire, photography club, where he perfected his darkroom techniques for black-and-white photographs.

Phil loved to read and investigate ideas, both political and philosophical. In his last years, when disease limited his activity, he participated in tutorials on his computer for bread-making and watercolor painting and listened to organ concerts on the grand organs of Europe. Phil was always curious about how things worked, and he asked profound questions. He loved to watch his wife Diane gardening, and they shared the hobby of landscaping, building stone walls, terraced gardens, taking down trees, and planting and pruning selected species of trees and shrubs. Phil made home maintenance and improvements a part of his life. Diane used to say that Phil could fix anything. His sons, Mark and Jon, learned many skills working beside their dad.

Phil is survived by his wife, Diane Temple of Pepperell; his sister, Sally Cavanaugh, of Wakefield; and his sister-in-law, Peg Temple, of Moultonborough, New Hampshire; his sons, Mark Temple (and wife Cheryl) of Bolton, and Jonathan Temple, of Alton, New Hampshire (and former wife Cathi Temple of Newmarket, New Hampshire); and grandchildren: Zachary Temple, Tricia Temple, and Caitlin Temple, and a number of nieces and nephews.

Phil was predeceased by his brothers, Frederic Temple (and wife Kathleen) of Oxford, and Thomas Temple, of Moultonborough, New Hampshire.

Plans for a family graveside memorial at Bellevue Cemetery, Harvard, and a celebration of his life with family and friends will occur when it becomes possible to gather safely in 2021. Donations in Phil’s memory can be made to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 214 Main Street, P.O. Box 412, Nashua, New Hampshire 03061. Arrangements under the direction of the McGaffigan Family Funeral Home, Pepperell. See


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