Lieutenant Commander Philip Joseph Dabney, USN (ret.), age 72, of Portsmouth, VA, formerly of Dayton, OH, passed away July 18, 2021 at Kindred Hospital, Dayton, after a lengthy illness. Known for his dedication as a Naval officer and later for his love of teaching high school science in the San Diego, CA and Norfolk, VA school systems. Philip also had the gift of connecting with people on a personal level through his kindness, generosity, friendship and passion for life-long learning. As the eldest of eight children of Clarence and Gloria Dabney, Phil’s job growing up was to keep his siblings “in line”, which he did with his unique flair, leading to a love of his family which hallmarked his life.
Born January 5, 1949 in San Francisco, CA, he graduated in 1967 from Dayton’s Chaminade High School (now Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School) where he was an accomplished student. Philip then went on to the University of Dayton, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and participating in campus activities including joining the Dayton Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity which he since maintained a lasting relationship with, even beyond retirement from professional life.
Philip began his active-duty Navy career in June 1971, receiving his commission as an Ensign from Aviation Officer Candidate School in October 1971 in Pensacola, FL. Philip’s assignments during his 21-year Naval career include serving: aboard the USS RICHMOND K. TURNER (CG 20) as Gunnery Officer; as a recruiting officer in the Navy Recruiting District, Chicago and Glenville, IL; aboard the USS MACDONOUGH (DDG9) as Combat Information Center Officer; aboard USS TOWERS (DDG 8) as Engineering Officer; as Naval Operations Officer with Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Camp H.M. Smith, HI; and serving as Chief Staff Officer of Maritime Preposition Ships (Squadron Three) under Commodore C.E. Aker aboard the squadron’s flagship (which was deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Marine operations during Operation Desert Shield). His final command before retiring in 1992 was serving as Operations Officer for the Fleet Tactical Deception Group – Pacific at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, San Diego, CA.
He was the recipient of numerous Naval decorations for his service, including: Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Commendation Medal, and Southwest Asia Service Medal (with star).
Upon retiring from the Navy he received his teaching credentials from the University of San Diego, San Diego, which launched a nearly 17-year career of teaching biology, physics, environmental science, forensics, and earth science to schools in predominantly inner city areas, including Gompers Secondary School in San Diego where he began teaching soon after retiring from the Navy, and Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, VA where he transferred to in 2003 after relocating to nearby Portsmouth, VA. Innovative and always striving for excellence in his students, Philip briefly explained his philosophy of teaching this way: “I meet students where they are and then transform them to where they need to be.” Although he retired from teaching in 2013, he remained active in developing outreach initiatives on his own that explored new ways to motivate low-income students in science. Philip was also a member of the scholarship committee of Alphi Phi Lamda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Philip is preceded in death by his father MSGT Clarence W. Dabney, USAF (ret.) and his sister Margaret. He is survived by his mother, Gloria J. Dabney in Columbus, OH; sisters, Roanna La Cour and Kathleen Joiner of Cincinnati, OH; brothers, Michael of San Diego, CA, Drs. Paul and Andrea (wife) of Decatur, GA, Christopher of Dayton, Steven (and wife Kimberly) of Columbus, OH; his significant other, CAPT Cecelia Dawe-Gillis, NC, USN (ret.) of Portsmouth, VA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Funeral service will be held 11:30 am Friday, July 30, at St. Benedict the Moor Church, 519 Liscum Drive, Dayton. Visitation 10 am-11:30 am. (Mask Required) Interment Calvary Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to House of Wheat Funeral Home, Inc.
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