Born in West Virginia to a naturalized German-American father and a first generation German mother, Phil grew up in a series of towns as the family followed the glass industry. His father held 14 mechanical and 28 design patents, and Phil’s exposure to the glass business allowed him to earn his way through college by working for two years as a traveling salesman. After attending Ohio Wesleyan University, he graduated from Ohio State Law School in 1931 and took a job in Dayton, his wife’s hometown, with Burkhart, Heald & Pickrel.
Quickly establishing himself in trial work with Mr. Pickrel, he became active in the community through the Lions Club and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. A natural flair for leadership propelled him to president of the Ohio (1938) and National (1938-1939) Junior Chamber of Commerce. He became a sought after speaker. As president of the Dayton (1943) and Ohio State (1948) Bar Associations he contributed to the profession and continued this dedication as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association from 1949 until his death.
In the early 1950’s he was elected an honorary 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason. An active proponent of the philosophy of undergraduate college fraternity beliefs, he became national president of the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. He was an active director of the Community Chest, president of the Chamber of Commerce and later served as a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce. He was an early advocate of the development of close ties with Wright Patterson Air Force Base, seeing its contributions to the area as an economic resource. Starting as a trustee in 1944, he served Ohio Wesleyan to the date of his death when he was its board chairman.
In April, 1963 an era ended for many organizations and relationships, including PS&E. Philip C. Ebeling died at age 58, having established himself as a leader on local, state and national scenes. He was involved with his fellow man – a person with a broad scope view of life. Very few who knew him don’t have some personal moment where their life was touched in a very meaningful way by some act or word, some kindness or display of understanding. His influence will always be felt by the firm which still proudly carries his name.
“History is fluid at best. To treat it as if it were fixed is to ignore that memories are fragile, records are not always accurate, and that the predisposition of the writer can affect accuracy and emphasis.”
In pasting together the history of the law firm, one must realize that people don’t know they are making history while they are living it. Records are not kept in an orderly fashion. Anecdotes become embellished with retelling. Nostalgia influences us and we recall the good times and successes better than the hard times and hard decisions. Being human, our history is the compilation of the best memories of the best times and we can only hope that they outweigh substantially any bad memories and hard feelings.”
Harry G. Ebeling