Wednesday May 29th, 2024 4:35PM
Whitfield Funeral Home
Little Davenport
Hamilton Mill

Philip Hoke Gresham

Obituary Date: Friday, March 1, 2024
Philip Hoke Gresham, 92, of Demorest, formerly of Duluth, died March 1, 2024.
Born Aug. 20, 1931, he was a stoic man—a U.S. Navy veteran, business owner, and an independent thinker. 
He grew up working a dusty farm share near Winder, the second oldest of nine children and the eldest son. 
In his early years of working the soil, he mastered an innate ability to grow things. 
A keen intellect.
Strong sons. 
Political viewpoints.
He knew education was the pathway to a different sort of life. Beyond his rural beginnings, he yearned for more. Hitchhiking from Winder to Atlanta to work at the world-famous Varsity during high school, he began to dream of a college degree. 
After high school, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the U.S.S. Yorktown, before enrolling at the Georgia Institute of Technology via the GI Bill.  
He met Dorothy Stedham in Atlanta in the mid-1950s; they married before he graduated. 
Fatherhood was not far behind, with a first-born son arriving in September of 1956, before he donned the mortar board and black gown after earning a degree in Civil Engineering in 1958. 
That sheepskin changed the trajectory of his life, with an initial career at Lockheed, then as a contractor in the defense industry, sending him to California, Texas, Florida, and finally back to Georgia. 
Later, as an independent businessman, he built houses and taught his sons to wield a hammer, imprinting a formidable work ethic in all three. 
As long as he had access to a plot of earth, he cultivated a garden. 
A pragmatic man, yes, he appreciated beauty, planting Dahlias among the vegetables he gave freely to family and friends. 
He survived a stroke, cancer, and other medical challenges in his later years. 
He lived without a television set for a season. He visited the public library, devouring several books weekly, reading the daily newspaper, and listening to the Braves on the radio. 
Fishing – deep sea and farm pond – were mainstays throughout his life.
For many years, he marked off the first week of September as “out-of-office,” reserving a condo at Silver Dunes in Destin, FL. He wasn’t much on the beach, but he cherished hosting his family for these vacations, spending time inside the weekly rental, cooking, and monitoring the Weather Channel so the group could experience one stellar day on a charter boat. 
He also took his sons and grandchildren on an annual fishing pilgrimage to a farm pond near Winder. 
Thanks to his insistence on these trips, his sons and grandchildren continue this hobby in all iterations. 
He was known for his culinary expertise, especially barbecue and Brunswick stew, extending abundant hospitality from his kitchen, backyard, or driveway. He also led the July 4th cooking team at The Neely Farm for many years. 
He was heavily involved in politics and often penned creatively worded letters to the editor. A few of his more memorable descriptors were “Cotton Candy Godzilla,” “Sweet and sour Aesop,” and “Tower of Jelly.” 
He ran for local and state offices, never winning but always standing firm on his belief system. 
He worked until age 87; his final assignment provided engineering support to Metal Building Construction. 
He was preceded in death by parents Hoke Hamilton and Ora Wall Gresham, wife Dorothy Stedham Gresham, and seven of his nine siblings, Bessie Sue Stell, Paul Wesley Gresham, Sybil McDaniel, Jerome Gresham, Owen “Pancho,” Gresham, Patricia Faye Thornton and Linda Baumer.
Also preceding him were brother-in-law Erwin Baumer and a beloved friend and political ally, Howard Hoffman.
He is survived by one sister, Sarah Peeples; three sons John [Karen] Gresham of Sautee-Nacoochee, Robert Gresham of Suwanee, William “Bill” [Lane] Gresham of Clarkesville; six grandsons and one granddaughter, Brad Gresham, Jason Gresham, Wes [Maggie] Gresham, Charlie Gresham, Joseph Gresham, Jackson [Sarah] Gresham and Perry Gresham; and five great-grandchildren, Finn, Maverick, Caroline, Memphis, and Carson. 
The family thanks Mimi and the dedicated Magnolia Hills Assisted Living staff for making his final season peaceful and safe. 
Because of Philip’s deep commitment to the value of higher education, the family asks memorials in his name be directed to the Georgia Institute of Technology. Checks should be made payable to the Georgia Tech Foundation, Inc., and mailed to the Georgia Tech Foundation, 760 Spring Street NW., Suite 400, Atlanta, GA 30308. To make a gift online, visit
Visitation is set for 2-4 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, with a brief service to follow at Hillside Memorial Chapel. 
An online guestbook is available for the family at
Arrangements are in the care and professional direction of Hillside Memorial Chapel & Gardens, Clarkesville, GA, 706-754-6256.
Funeral Date
03/12/2024 at 4:00PM
Funeral Home
Hillside Memorial Chapel and Gardens
5495 Highway 197 S, PO Box 305, Clarkesville 30523