Freeman H. Phillips of Joseph died June 4, 2007, at the Wallowa Valley Care Center in Enterprise. He was 81.
Mr. Phillips was born Dec. 27, 1926, at Wilmot Flats, N.H. to Freeman S. and Christabel chamberlain Phillips, the second of 14 children. In 1927, the family moved to Alexandria where he attended grammar school and spent his early years working on the farm and for neighboring farmers at the going wage of fifty cents per day.
Following his seventeenth birthday, in 1943, he entered the U.S. Navy and served on ships in the Atlantic Fleet before being assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Luce in the Pacific Fleet, on which he served until it was hit by Japanese planes and sunk in the battle for Okinawa on May 4, 1945. Seriously wounded, he was brought home for hospitalization and recuperation. Near the end of his enlistment in 1947, he married his long-time sweetheart, Dorothy Adams, then a Navy nurse at Green Cove Springs, Florida. They returned home together and built a home in Chichester, N.H. and raised three children.
He worked for many years at Concord Dry Cleaners before opening his own PVP Dry Cleaning business in Concord, N.H.
The family moved to Rapid City, S.D. in 1963 where Mr. Phillips was employed at Barber Transportation Co. with his younger brother, Jim.
On June 9, 1972, his eldest son, also named Freeman, was swept away while working with the S.D. National Guard when he attempted to rescue flood victims during the Rapid Valley flood. Mr. Phillips and his brother searched for and discovered his son’s body two days later.
Mr. Phillips retired from Barber Transportation in 1981 and moved to Oregon. On April 18, 1986, he married Mary Eckroth and they made their home in Joseph until his death.
Mr. Phillips was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved and enjoyed all the aspects of Oregon’s outdoors.
He was preceded in death by his first wife Dorothy; son Freeman; two sisters Waneta Goodell and Winona Strowbridge and one stepsister Diane Hodgman.
He is survived by his wife Mary; daughter Ellen Jane Mayhew of Carmel, Maine; son Matt Phillips of Rapid City, S.D.; two sisters Pandora Martel and Ann Simpson; two step sisters Liz Westgate and Julie Tasker; step brother William Babb; two brothers Willard Phillips of Ronan, Mont. and Bud Phillips of Milton-Freewater; four grandchildren; six great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.
Graveside services were held June 13, at the Joseph Cemetery with Pastor Neal Evans officiating and military honors conducted by Enterprise V.F.W. Post #4307. A memorial service and lunch followed the service at the Enterprise First Baptist Church.
Contributions in his memory may be made to a local or national Diabetes Foundation.
Wallowa County Chieftain – June 28, 2007
Contributed by Dixie Ricker