1925 - 2020

Rev. Philip Eugene Wheaton  
Born in Minneapolis, MN, May 21, 1925, died Silver Spring, MD, May 9, 2020. Phil served as a pilot in the US Navy during World War II and subsequently graduated from the University of Minnesota in engineering. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1952 at the Virginia Theological Seminary. He and his wife Phyllis were then assigned to serve in the Dominican Republic where, among many community activities, he founded two churches and schools in underserved communities. These programs continue to thrive today. His experience living under the brutal Trujillo dictatorship galvanized his commitment, guided by the teachings of Jesus and the Prophets, to the poor of Latin America and the Caribbean.  In 1964, he and his family moved to Brockport New York where he served as the rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church until 1968. He then moved to Washington, DC where he founded EPICA, an ecumenical program supporting human rights under the auspices of the National Council of Churches Department of Latin America.  He married his second wife Sue Knickerbocker Wheaton in 1975. They and their two children moved to Takoma Park, MD in 1982. He continued to be involved with Latin American human rights movements overseas as well as at the national and local levels in the US. Beginning in the early 1990s he and Sue undertook the support of projects in the small village of Jiñoquao in Nicaragua to which he became deeply devoted and continued to visit into his early 90s. He is survived by his wife Sue; his sister Mary Gage; his children Lisa, Michael, Ann, Sandra, Rebecca, David and Poppy. He leaves behind many beloved grandchildren, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. He will be sorely missed. A streamed memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, 2020.  For donations, please direct funds to: La Clinical Del Pueblo in Washington, DC ( or The Jubilee House in Managua, Nicaragua (  
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Published by The Washington Post on May 17, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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22 Entries
He was a Guiding Light to many young people who marveled at his commitment to justice and social change. Thank you, Rev. Wheaton, for inspiring us to action.
Saul Schniderman
April 16, 2021
I met Phil in 1986 at Hampshire College where both of us had been invited to present sessions during Central America week. We stayed in contact through EPICA. I had met Sue the previous year in Texas at the founding convention of the Alliance For Democracy and she and I stayed in touch through AFD. I never connected the two as being together until Sue invited me to stay with them when I was in DC a couple years later. They once hosted a house concert for me; I had wonderful conversations with Phil. He was a great teacher and inspiration. Presente, tom
Tom Neilson
April 15, 2021
Loved greatly, encouraged me to study and be useful to society..
Herman Creque
October 4, 2020
Phil Wheaton was inspirational to all. He reverberated progressivism with a commanding and always wise and deeply dedicated presence. Like many others I certainly benefited from knowing him in the struggle for justice. Phil Wheaton Presente!
Mark Looney
May 23, 2020
I met Phil in Santiago Chile in 1973. Through connections made, I was the person to give him a tour of the poblacion where I lived. He was so grateful for that accompaniment and visit. I remembered him but did not think I would ever see him again. However in the circles of life. I ended up living with him and the others of the original Lamont St. house in DC.when we had to leave Chile because of the coup. He will always be remembered as a tall tree in my life. My love to all the family. The memorial was very special. Mary Bundy
May 23, 2020
Thank you, dear family and friends of Phil. We are so grateful to you for including us in this tribute to Phil and we send our deepest appreciation and love to each of you as well. It is with great sorrow to say good-bye to Phil, but we know he will continue to be present to us, and we are better human beings for his life of solidarity, his prophetic witness, and his wonderful friendship to so many. Scott, Jean and Maura
Scott Wright
May 23, 2020
Felipe Wheaton - Presente!
Vallerie, Rebecca and Carolina send our love and condolences on your loss.
I give thanks for the amazing life of Phil and remember several insightful conversations with him.
We remember many fun times together with your family when we all lived in Nicaragua. Blessings and love.
Vallerie Ross
May 23, 2020
Envio mi mas sentido pesame a Sue y a toda la familia Wheaton. El Padre Felipe se destaco primero como fiel siervo de Dios y como amigo y pastor de miles durante su ministerio tanto en la R.D. como en otros paises de Latino America. Lo recuerdo con mucho afecto y agradecimiento. Descansa en paz, Felipe, y que Dios te premie con una corona de gloria.
Lucila Woodard
May 22, 2020
Phil, You set the example for many of us to follow. May we recommit ourselves to the struggle for Peace and Justice. Our world needs more of the committed like you. May Peace be with your family and friends at this time of reflection. May we pick up your touch and commitment to continue the struggle for Peace and Justice.
Paul Pumphrey
May 22, 2020
Lo siento mucho de todo corazón la partida de Philip, mis mas sinceras condolencias a la familia.
Recuerdo las tardes en casa de la familia Wheaton en Nicaragua, siempre me hicieron sentir bienvenida, David nos enseñaba a jugar el fútbol americano y Sue y Philip nos ofrecían algún refrigerio después de jugar largas horas. Estoy segura que dejaste huellas gratas en esta vida, como lo hicieron ustedes conmigo, gracias por financiar mis estudios en la secundaria y parte de mis estudios universitarios, gracias por darme la oportunidad de tener esta vida que tengo, con el tiempo los caminos de la vida nos alejó pero nunca los olvide, mi corazón llora y al mismo tiempo le doy gracias a Dios por haberme permitido ser parte de vuestra vida,Philip por siempre en mis recuerdos.
Xochilt Teran.
Xochilt Teran
May 22, 2020
Viva Phil Wheaton!
Phil was very important to the Latin American community, both here and in Latin America and the Caribbean. I first met Phil in a protest march against the Chilean Pinochet dictatorship back in the 1970's. I remember when he first founded EPICA, and we all worked at the Wilson Center at 15th and Irving Sts. Phil became a mentor to me, and he taught me a great deal about imperialism in Latin America. I remember driving with him in a camper to Texas to participate in a Youth Conference where he educated young people. He always invited me to accompany him on trips to Latin America. The one that is most important to me was a delegation Phil led to Panama during the Omar Torrijos era. For the first time I learned about my country and the issues that Panama faced. We met with Torrijos and Phil spoke at a big rally with Torrijos.
Back in DC Phil was active for many in the local immigrant community. I vividly remember his work helping to organize CARECEN during the era when many Salvadorans fled to DC during the civil war.
Those are just some of my memories. Phil was always teaching us, writing books, essays, and speeches -- and always mailing us his latest writings! He will be sorely missed, and in today's world it is hard to find people of Phil's stature and commitment. Phil will always be with us. My condolences to Sue and all his family.
Arturo Griffiths
May 22, 2020
A great human being, my condolences to his family
Violeta Ruiz
May 21, 2020
I just learned that Phil has passed from this earth. I'm very sorry to hear it, and send my condolences for your loss of a husband, father, or beloved relative or friend.

Phil and I had been in only sporadic touch in recent years, but I have always thought of him with affection. I first got to know him in about 1988, when he conducted a weekend retreat near Baltimore about liberation theology as it applies to our lives in the US. I found it very meaningful. As I recall, a number of people participating were part of the sanctuary movement (as I was then). The following summer, I went on my first trip to Nicaragua with a Casa Baltimore/Limay delegation; we attended the Thursday morning protest at the US Embassy, where there was a fairly big crowd - and there was Phil! It was a nice reunion for us. Then we had contact from time to time when I worked at Nicaragua Network; he would stop in to chat and talk about the situation in Nicaragua. He was a good man, very dedicated always to the country and the work he was doing there.
Barbara Larcom
May 20, 2020
Father Wheaton was another father for me. I had known him since I was 5 years old while attending "San Marcos" the school he founded in Haina, Dominican Republic.
At the tender age of 14, I was brought to the United States with two other young people to live with American families since schools were closed due to the 1965 Revolution. I remained in Brockport, NY, after my other two compatriots returned to the Dominican Republic. This move to the USA provided me with a family with whom I am still in contact and love and with my best friend, Vicky, even though she is now living in the Dominican Republic.
Father Wheaton not only opened a new world for me and my family (most of them now live in the USA) but in moments when I was alone and thought I couldn't make it anymore, he was there to support and guide me.
His family has been a family to me, even though I don't see them often but each of them represent the gifts and love this wonderful man showered to me and my family; not just my parents, brothers and sisters but also to my immediate family: my ex-husband and three children.
His dedication to serve those in need has influenced my life!
I will miss him so very much but today, I try to pass forward what he gave me: an obedience to our Lord, energy to learn as much as I can about others and then to serve them with unconditional love.
May you rest in peace and thank you for taking me under your wings!
I love you! Mara (Xiomara Manon Boyce)
Xiomara Boyce
May 20, 2020
I remember meeting this gentleman 37 years ago, when he walked into the Latin American Youth Center located @ 3045 15th Street, NW. looking for his daughter Lisa - Tall gringo with a great smile speaking perfect Spanish with a friendly, and kind personality. Rest In Peace Rev. Wheaton. Millie Perez
Mildred E Perez
May 18, 2020
Although I know Phil's daughter, Rebecca, and believe I have some sense of the man through her, I my life seems the poorer for not having met Phil. I share his family's grief.
Ken Burton
May 18, 2020
I have such fond memories of Phil. I will always remember the loyalty he had towards his family and friends. Phil, Sue, my father Louis and my late mother Dolores go back many many years (I believe since the late 70's). Through think and thin Phil and Sue have always stood by our family's side and for that I will be forever grateful. My husband and I are sending our deepest sympathy to the Wheaton family. Phil will love on in them, and the work that he did for people all over the world.
Emma Wolf Bonsignore
May 18, 2020
Phil Wheaton has been a true hero of mine since the day I first met him in late 1978 and am so fortunate to grow to know and love him and his devoted wife Sue closely.

The depth and breadth of his knowledge and commitment about this country and the global community knew no bounds.

Phil's sense of humor was so real, no pretend, no pretense. His laugh was raucous and contagious.

When Phil shook your hand, it was at one time gentle but firm, nearly like a vice.

To say he will be greatly missed does not come close. Yet, his legacy will live forever.
Louis Wolf
May 18, 2020
Louis Wolf
May 18, 2020
I met Phil through Sue. I wanted to learn Spanish. Sue invited me to her house for her Spanish group's dinner. From that first contact with Phil, I found his smile very welcoming and I felt I met a new friend. When I discovered that every year the family went to Nicaragua, I ask to go and was told yes. Phil was very kind to me on the trip. He introduced me to Jinoquao and tried to help me with my Spanish (Phil was very patience). I will never forget the trip and I will never forget Phil and his teachings. My condolences to the family and my prayers are with you all.
Vivian Omagbemi
May 18, 2020
We owe you so much! You brought Mara to Brockport, and because of you, we all have been blessed. Thank you Padre Wheaton.
Mirquella Bartels
May 18, 2020
A truly great human being. Imposing, amusing, commanding, engaging, loving, compelling. Could go on and on. Phil authored many books but put ideas into action. With love and respect, Pat Powers and Tom Harvey
May 18, 2020
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