Dr. Tom Rhea Phillips

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Dr. Tom Rhea Phillips, Jr.

Hattiesburg, MS

Services will be held at Hardy Street Baptist Church on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. for Dr. Tom Rhea Phillips, Jr., 85, of Hattiesburg.

Dr. Phillips died Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at his home in Hattiesburg, MS.

Burial will be at Roseland Park Cemetery in Hattiesburg.

Dr. Phillips was a retired dentist. In earlier years, he was a member of Main Street Baptist Church and later at Temple Baptist Church.

Dr. Phillips was born in Calhoun City in north Mississippi on September 13, 1926. In 1935, his family moved to Hattiesburg. He graduated from Hattiesburg High in 1944.

He enlisted in the United States Navy and graduated from the U.S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. He served in the South Pacific in the amphibious corps in World War II. He returned and received a B.A. degree at Mississippi Southern College (University of Southern Mississippi) and majored in chemistry and biology with a minor in psychology. He served as President of the University of Southern Mississippi Class of 1950 and was a charter member of ATO (Alpha Tau Omega) Fraternity and a charter member of ODK (Omicron Delta Kappa) honorary leadership fraternity. He graduated from Loyola University School of Dentistry. Dr. Phillips practiced dentistry for over 50 years in Hattiesburg.

Dr. Phillips had an extreme love for the outdoors and an extensive knowledge of flora and fauna as well as insects and various animals. He even worked on a Masters from Ole Miss in entomology. He served on the board of the MS Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and on the board of the Crosby Arboretum.

Dr. Phillips enjoyed building and relished in using old and massive materials. He removed and used ancient logs submerged in rivers to build a lake house and covered bridge. The family has hosted many functions over the years from retreats and board meetings to Christmas tree burnings and weddings.

Dr. Phillips was active in the USM Alumni Association, the Eagle Club, served on the USM Foundation Board Executive Committee, the Partners for the Arts, and chairman of the Dr. Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies. In 2003, he was inducted into the USM Alumni Hall of Fame.

Through the years, Dr. Phillips was also active as a Boy Scout leader, in the Salvation Army, in the Sons of American Revolution, in the Hattiesburg Rotary Club, as well as a charter member of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jessie and Tom Rhea Phillips, Sr. of Hattiesburg. He was also preceded in death by his sibling, Dr. Van Allen Phillips, of Hattiesburg.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Barbara Franklin Phillips, formerly of Lumberton, MS. He is survived by his son, Tom Rhea Phillips, III of Petal, MS; his son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Kim Phillips of Hattiesburg; his daughter and son-in-law, Alesia and Brett Valentine of Hattiesburg; his son and daughter-in-law, John Allen and Kim Phillips of Chagrin Falls, OH; and his daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Jason Helwig, of Hattiesburg. He is survived by his grandchildren: Shelby Phillips and David Phillips of Hattiesburg; Rhea-Phillips Valentine, James Valentine, and Brett Valentine of Hattiesburg; and Robert Phillips and Emily Phillips of Chagrin Falls, OH. He is also survived by his nieces, Jo Ellen Martin of Hattiesburg and Jeanie Barrier of Nashville, TN.

Memorials may be made to the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation/Dr. Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies, Partners For the Arts, or the Hattiesburg Area Historical Society, Post Office Box 1573, Hattiesburg, MS, 39403.

Visitation for Dr. Phillips will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home in Hattiesburg.

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Published in the Hattiesburg American on June 28, 2012
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