Mystic - Nicolas Rufus Guthrie Phillips, beloved husband of Bonnie Payer Phillips, died at his home in Old Mystic, on April 27, 2014, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. |
He was born in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 3, 1934, the son of the late Rufus S. and Elizabeth G. Phillips.
Nick and Bonnie met in 1959 and were married in 1960. They enjoyed 54 years of marriage and raised four children.
In addition to Bonnie, Nick is survived by his daughter, Johanna Phillips Clark and husband, Warren, of Westford, Mass., and Mystic; his daughter-in-law, Katherine Godine Phillips of Baltimore, Md.; his sons, Stephen MacLeod Phillips and wife, Jean, of Damariscotta, Maine; and Paul Timothy Phillips and wife, Tracy, of Ledyard. "Papa Nick" leaves six cherished grandchildren, Katherine, Emily, Calum, Walker, John, and Elizabeth. He also leaves his sister, Patricia Phillips Bernhard of Westport; and several nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.
His son, David Guthrie Phillips, predeceased him in 2006.
Nick was raised in Eastchester, N.Y. He was active with the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. At Eastchester High School, he was a varsity athlete in football, baseball, and track and also played trombone in the New York State High School Band.
He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., in 1956. He studied marine engineering and sailed to ports in the Mediterranean, around the coasts of Africa, and through the Panama Canal. He was a battalion commander and upon graduation, earned a U.S. Coast Guard License and a commission in the U.S. Navy. He served aboard Destroyer USS Manley as the damage control officer and chief engineer and was awarded a personal citation from the North Atlantic Fleet Commander for actions taken during a disaster when the ship was hit by a rogue wave. Later, he served as executive officer aboard Minesweeper USS Aggressive, earning a commendation for Operational Excellence and qualifying for Command-at-Sea.
Nick resigned his commission from the Navy in 1961 with the rank of lieutenant. He settled in Mystic and enjoyed sailing with his family on Fisher's Island Sound. He worked at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton as a shipwright superintendent, wet-dock manager, and manufacturing manager. Nick also earned his MBA from the University of Connecticut.
After retirement from Electric Boat, Nick continued his career in manufacturing engineering. He was president of Marathon LeTourneau Shipyard, Brownsville, Texas, supervising construction of offshore oilrigs. He returned to the northeast, working as general manager for Otis Elevator in Yonkers, N.Y., and then as plant manager for Cone Blanchard Machine Co., in Windsor, Vt. Nick's career took him to Colorado as general manager of Gardner Denver Mining Division. Then, he became a manufacturing consultant for BDM, a defense contractor in Albuquerque, N.M. During this time, he earned his Ph.D. from Kennedy-Western University. He moved to El Paso, Texas, and worked in Juarez, Mexico, as director of engineering for ELAMEX. He taught business and engineering at the University of Texas, El Paso. Later, he developed an industrial training program and facility for New Mexico State University in Carlsbad, N.M. During his 22 years in the southwest, Nick enjoyed skiing in the Rocky Mountains and vacationing in Mexico.
Nick retired in 2002, and he and Bonnie relocated to Old Mystic. He rekindled his love of life at sea, serving as an engineer with Cross Sound Ferry Services aboard the Mary Ellen. He volunteered in the shipyard at the Mystic Seaport and was a regular member of the Gung Ho Squad. He was a former member of Off Soundings and the Ram Island and Mason's Island Yacht Clubs. For several years, he was an admissions field representative for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Nick was a dedicated member of the Old Mystic Community Association, where he was known for playing "Taps" on his bugle at the annual Old Mystic Memorial Day ceremony.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 2, at Bonnie and Nick's home, 1444 Pequot Trail, Old Mystic, Stonington. Burial will be private. A Mass celebrating Nick's life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 21, at St. Patrick's Church, Mystic. A graveside ceremony with military honors will be held at Elm Grove Cemetery, and a reception will follow.
The Dinoto Funeral Home, 17 Pearl St., Mystic, has been entrusted with his care.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation (http://www.usmmaaf.com), the Mystic Seaport (http://www.mysticseaport.org), or the Center for Hospice Care of Southeastern Connecticut (http://www.hospicesect.org/).
Published in The Day on Apr. 30, 2014