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James Phillips

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James Phillips Obituary
Colonel (Retired) James Walter Phillips, age 94, quietly slipped from the bounds of earth to join his loving wife Helen in the arms of the Lord on Saturday, September 14, 2013, following a long walk with Alzheimer's Disease and a brief acute illness.

Born on January 6, 1919, in Westwego, LA, the firstborn of Walter Stacy Phillips and Annie Laurie Chappell, Jim spent much of his childhood in the deep South. Graduating from high school at 16, he attended Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he played baseball and graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1939. While he entered West Point with the Class of 1944, WWII brought that class to graduation as the Class of June 1943, the only time that West Point has graduated two classes in one year.

Jim served this Nation for more than 33 years as an Artillery officer, a "Red Leg" in the vernacular of the soldier, serving in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. His duty stations were numerous and included Ft. Sill, OK; Ft. Bragg, NC; Salzburg, Austria; Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Tokyo, Japan; West Point,NY; Giessen and Stuttgart, Germany; Carlisle, PA; Ft. Riley, KS; and Washington, DC. His awards were numerous and included the Army Commendation Medal, the Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Legion of Merit with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster.

He retired three times: from the Army in Falls Church, VA; he then taught mathematics in both junior and senior high school before retiring and moving to San Antonio, TX; which enabled his third retirement from snow shoveling!

In San Antonio, Jim volunteered as a BRAG member at Brooke Army Medical Center for a number of years, and was a long term member of the First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Choir as well as their Friday Singers group. His passion was always woodworking and he spent countless hours refinishing furniture for the myriad of homes he occupied, built numerous pieces of furniture for loved ones, and eventually managed the shop at his retirement home, The Towers on Park Lane, for close to twenty years. He loved organizing just about anything, fixing just about everything and was always pleased when asked to solve a problem for a fellow resident whether it was to hang a picture, re-glue a chair they treasured or to build a grandfather clock. He was happiest in "his" shop.

Jim will be remembered for his deep and abiding love of Helen Kinney Phillips, his wife of 62 years, his family, his country and his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He loved to read, he loved to sing and he loved to dance. He and Helen commanded the dance floor on many a special occasion. He loved to flirt with the ladies and had a sense of humor, a genuine love of a good party of which he was justly proud, and he loved any food item that came with a sauce. He and Helen initiated a luncheon group of June'43 Classmates when they moved to San Antonio in 1986 that continues to this day. At some time during virtually every gathering, he would ask the question of the group as to what number luncheon it was, or when the ladies, wives and widows, had joined the group, and always seemed surprised when the answers were incorrect!

Jim served as a Trustee-at-Large for the Association of Graduates at West Point between 2002 and 2005. To Jim, West Point was more than a school, it was an institution in the finest sense of the word. It's values were permanently embedded within him. His ongoing commitment to those core values were demonstrated throughout his military career as well as in how he lived his life. Jim would gather classmates at June '43 funerals and together they would sing the "Alma Mater" for the family of the classmate. His closing when writing classmates was always "Grip Hands," a poignant reference to a verse within a treasured West Point song, "The Corps."

His memory will live on through his children, Jean Phillips Truscott; James "Jay" Walter Phillips, Jr.; and daughter-in-law, Ann Hasseltine Phillips; Laura Chappell Phillips Blair and son-in-law, Hal Rankin Blair, Sr.; grandchildren Jeffrey Kinney Truscott; Joshua Bryan Truscott; Katherine Phillips Truscott; Laurel Louise Phillips; Thayer Ann Phillips Bentley and husband, Stephen; Whitney Chappell Blair; Hal Rankin Blair, Jr.; and Price Phillips Blair; great-grandchildren Alexa Katherine Young; Karis Ann Bentley and Mason Dale Bentley; as well as numerous nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
9:30 A.M.
11:00 A.M.
1705 N.W. LOOP 410

Should you wish to make a memorial donation, please consider the Military Ethic education program at West Point. Your gift may be sent to the Association of Graduates, 698 Mills Road, West Point, NY 10996.

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Published in Express-News on Sept. 22, 2013
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