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Forest L. Gager, Jr.

July 31, 2020

U.S. Veteran

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Forrest L. Gager, Jr. (Gage) passed away Friday, July 31, 2020 at the age of 98 at Westminster Canterbury, Lynchburg Virginia.  Gage (Bus in younger years) grew up in Philadelphia, attending The Episcopal School in Merion Pa. where his father was a Master and Administrator for over 45 years. Gage spent his summers at Camp Tecumseh in Moultonborourgh, N. H. creating many fond memories that he loved to share.

Gage’s education at Haverford College (PA) was interrupted by World War II and he served four plus years in the Army Air Corp. He obtained his wings as a navigator, and culminated his work as Radar Observer/Navigator on B-29’s operating out of Tinian in the Marinas Islands.  He returned to Haverford College on the G.I. Bill and went on to receive a Masters in Organic Chemistry at Indiana University.

Gage’s professional career began in Development at Merck and Co. in Rahway, N.J.   He moved to Philip Morris Research Center (Richmond, VA) in 1955 where he worked until his retirement in 1985.  He was the first Senior Scientist to receive the equivalent of an Industrial sabbatical leave and worked with  A.J. Birch’s group at the University of Manchester, England.

A long time tennis player from his youth at Camp Tecumseh, Gage began playing competitively at the age of 70 in USTA sanctioned tournaments.  He was ranked nationally in Singles, Doubles, and one year in Super Senior Father/Son Doubles with his son Brian.  He was ranked number one in the Mid Atlantic Section and Virginia in the 80’s age group.

Gage was also active in community affairs starting with the Southampton Recreation Association (Richmond, VA) where he served as President as well as the Southampton Citizens Association where he worked on both Zoning and Community Relations committees.

After the death of his wife, Helen, and retirement from Philip Morris, Gage married Janet Kelso Lowrey and moved to the Sweet Briar area of Amherst County, VA.  There he soon became involved in environmental issues and served as President of a Regional Air Pollution Committee for Amherst County.  Gage served on the Amherst County Board of Zoning Appeals then the Planning Commission where he became Chairman.  He created the Gager Concert Series at Sweet Brian College in honor of his wife’s musical interests.

After Janet’s passing Gage married Judith Feild Vogelback and moved to Westminster Canterbury, Lynchburg in 2003.  At Westminster Canterbury he continued his interests in recycling and education through resident committee participation.  He often commented on the kindness of the Westminster Canterbury staff and how so many called him by name, even if he didn’t know theirs.  Their professionalism and kindness gave him great comfort in his final days.

Gage’s professional memberships included The American Chemical Society, Sigma XI, AAAS, Union of Concerned Scientists, Instrument Society of America (Founding member Committee E-19 on Gas Chromatography), The Chromatography Society (England) and The Chemical Society (England).  He also supported numerous environmental groups.

Gage often commented that he had been blessed with three beautiful, intelligent wives with whom he shared an affinity for classical music, particularly string quartets.

Gage was preceded in death by his parents (Forrest L. Gager and Beatrice Watts Gager), two sisters Ida Olive Gager Midgett and Evelyn Gager Henry Abrahamson), his wives: Helen McClure Gager (a fellow chemist he met at Indiana University) Janet Kelso Lowrey Gager and Judith Feild  Gager and his daughter in law, Adrienne Phoenix Gager.  He is survived by his son Brian, daughter Judith Perlman, stepdaughter Anne Lowrey Bailey, 10 grandchildren and 7 (soon to be 9) great-grandchildren and Brother in law, Richard McClure of Maryland.

In lieu of flowers, please consider the Westminster Canterbury Lynchburg, Va. Fellowship Fund, ( or The Episcopal Academy (

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg is assisting the family,

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