By JIM MAURER
Findlay native Philip “Phil” Predmore’s curiosity led him to science and a career as a forensic toxicologist, but he was also a creative man who enjoyed traveling and even skydiving.
At an early age, he knew math and science would be part of his career, said sister Pat Tong. But, scouting, model trains, piano lessons, working on theater lighting, and trips to Las Vegas and Alaska were also part of him.
His career included 30 years as chief forensic toxicologist for the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office in Pontiac, Mich., where he retired in 2003. The toxicology wing, which Predmore designed, will be named for him during a ceremony this month.
He also taught at Ohio State University, Lorain Community College, and Mercy College in Detroit.
Predmore, who lived in Rochester, Mich., died of prostate cancer Oct. 17 at age 73.
He often traveled to testify as an expert witness at jury trials and was involved in investigating Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s assisted-suicide cases, Tong said.
But over the years, his varied interests also kept him involved with others, she said.
He enjoyed playing chess with friends and with Findlay firefighters. An uncle, Alan Predmore, was a Findlay fire safety inspector and firefighter, and Predmore would visit the fire station regularly.
His interest in photography was encouraged by another uncle, Everett Predmore, a professional photographer. The family’s basement contained a darkroom, where Predmore spent hours developing film.
“Finally came his greatest ‘hobby’ interest of all, ‘ham’ radio,” Tong said.
A longtime member of Findlay Amateur Radio Club, with call letters W8CVT, his equipment also occupied a portion of the family’s basement, she said, and remains there.
“Above (the equipment) are many of the cards he received over the years that he was active,” she said. “I think there was an invisible sign on the basement door, ‘No Girls Allowed.'”
He took flying lessons, although he never got his pilot’s license.
But he called Tong daily for the past 30 years just to keep in touch.
Music was part of his creative side, too.
When his dad, Dahl, brought home an electric organ, Phil taught himself how to play and still had it in his condominium in Michigan, she said.
While teaching in Lorain, he would visit a nearby shopping mall to play an electric organ at a music store for pleasure and entertainment, she said. He also performed at Howard United Methodist Church.
An interest in theater lighting led him to work on operettas at Findlay High School and Ohio State University.
He also enjoyed watching Broadway musicals, with “Phantom of the Opera” his favorite, she said. He watched performances, along with two daughters, Jaime and Kathy, in cities across the country.
“All three of them not only knew the words of every song, but also every line the actors spoke,” Tong said.
He also saw solo acts, including Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand and Barry Manilow on trips to Las Vegas, which he enjoyed for years, often attending with his daughters and ex-wife, Pat Predmore, she said.
But his initial visit to Las Vegas was for a forensic convention, she said.
“Some of our best memories were made actually after we divorced (in 1985),” Pat Predmore said. They went to Las Vegas for the first time in June 2002. Then they returned two or three times annually. “In Vegas he showed me a side of himself I had never experienced, slot (machine) tournaments,” she said. “He had so much fun and had a lot of wonderful friends there.”
“One of the best trips was in October 2012,” she said. “We went on a seven-day cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, compliments of Mandalay Bay, his favorite casino.”
Lake Placid, N.Y., was another favorite destination, she said.
“Once we took a canoe out onto Mirror Lake and just sat out on the water looking at the beauty of Lake Placid, mountains and forest in every direction.”
He had several paintings of the 1980 Olympics in his Michigan residence, she said, and he gave her one for a birthday.
A 1957 Findlay High School graduate, he paid for most of his college education working various jobs, she said. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physiology from Ohio State University.
While in Columbus, he was a member of the Columbus Auxiliary Police Department.
His ex-wife was at his side during the final months of his life, Tong said.
The pair remained close after their 1985 divorce, Pat Predmore said.
“As hard as it was, I would not have been anyplace else but by his side helping through the last chapter of his life,” Pat Predmore said. “I will always cherish every moment.”
“As strange as it seems, some of my most precious memories were of the last two months of Phil”s life,” she said. “Our last trip to Vegas was in August, he really should not have gone, his health was declining rapidly at this point but we went anyway.
“As soon as we got back to Michigan he had to have more surgeries,” she said. “What we thought would be a two-week recovery turned into almost seven weeks.”
The family is planning a “Celebration of Life” ceremony in Michigan.
His life was one of “honor, honesty, integrity and hard work,” his sister said.
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