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Dr. Leslie Phillips

Obituary
  • "You have our sympathy in your loss."
    - Ken and Joyce Gaines

Dr. Leslie Phillips

Nashville, TN

Dr. Leslie Phillips, age 98, Professor Emeritus Vanderbilt University, died peacefully on May 23 in his apartment at the Belmont Village Senior Center in Nashville.

"Les", as he is remembered by many, was a forward looking person. He lived a life filled with love and laughter, an interest in ideas, people and places, a belief in human potential, long walks, and the New York Times. He was deeply loved and is missed by family, friends, and colleagues.

Dr. Phillips earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Chicago. In 1953, he and Joseph Smith wrote "Rorschach Interpretation: Advanced Technique," which became the standard text on the famous "ink blots." In 1968, he wrote the widely-referenced "Human Adaptation and its Failures."

In 1971, he moved to Nashville from the Boston area, where his two sons were born, to take a position with a consortium of Vanderbilt University, Peabody College, and Meharry Medical College. He divorced from Eleanor Phillips shortly afterwards. A few years later, he met Phyllis Sawyer. A divorced Nashville real-estate broker 18 years his junior, Phyllis had four children. Theirs was a whirlwind romance; they married just a few months after meeting in 1978. In his 60s and semi-retired, Les enjoyed a second round of parenting with Phyllis, especially his time with her youngest daughter, Scholle. Together they shared a rich social and spiritual life.

Continuing his joy and interest in life well into his 80's Les, started his own business. The firm, Leslie Phillips and Associates, pioneered psychological care for seniors in nursing and retirement homes in Tennessee and Alabama. He never really retired from his interests in psychology or in life.

Dr. Phillips is preceded in death by his five older brothers, his first wife, and in April, by Phyllis, his dear wife of 36 years.

He is survived by his two children, David Phillips (Beata Welsh) of Chicago, IL, Kenneth Phillips (Sandy) of Mt. Juliet; as well as by his four step-children, Cameron Sawyer (Natasha) of Moscow, Russia, John Phillip Sawyer (Nancy) of Easton, MD, Katy Wieland of Jacksonville, FL, and Scholle McFarland (David) of Portland, OR. He is greatly missed by his much-loved grandchildren, Jessica Rodocker (Mike) of Knoxville, Erin Hughes (Tim) of Nashville, Michael (Margaret McNellis) and Kieran Welsh-Phillips of Chicago, IL, Joshua and Nicholas Wieland of Jacksonville, FL, Graham and Kate McFarland of Portland, OR, and Daniel Sawyer of Moscow, Russia; as well as by his great-grandchild, Archer Rodocker.

A Memorial service and interment will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 23.



Published in The Tennessean on June 22, 2014
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