In Memory

Paul Phillips

Paul Clinton Phillips, age 90, passed away on October 19, 2017, at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Born on January 29, 1927 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he was the son of the late Louis and Frances (DeCastro) Phillips.

Paul was able to do in life many of the things he most loved, including piloting airplanes and traveling, living, and working in locations across the globe. He received his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Wyoming and Nebraska, respectively, and a Ph.D. of American Studies from the University of Hawaii. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, served and retired as a colonel in the United States Air Force. In his second career, Paul taught American Studies as a professor with the University of Maryland Overseas Program, retiring in 2009.

Surviving him are his loving wife, Jane Ellen Phillips; three sons, Kelly P. Phillips and wife Diana, Patrick L. Phillips and wife Debra Stencel, Moshe Oberstein and wife Linda; a daughter, Robin J. Phillips and wife Susan Green; six grandchildren, Andrew Phillips, Sara Phillips, Henry Phillips, Grace Phillips, Avital Oberstein and Zev Oberstein and four great-grandchildren. In addition to his parents, Paul was predeceased by his wife, LeAnn Cragun, brother, Louis Phillips and sister, Winifred MacDougal.

Paul's life will be memorialized at a service to be held at Arlington National Cemetery.

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01/05/18 09:59 AM #1    

Ronald Schlundt

Condolences to Paul's family.   We all have lots of memories of his time with the European Division.  He and I were in the same academic discipline (history) , so we saw a lot of each other, especially at academic meetings in Heidelberg (where we often agreed to disagree, especially about textbooks)


Ron Schlundt

01/05/18 11:46 AM #2    

Jacqui Clarke (Frohman)

So very sad to read this.  I worked for Paul (and LeAnn) in Heidelberg in the late 80's/early 90's.   He was a genuinely very warm, caring and very funny guy....and also one of the best bosses I've ever had.  Even after I'd moved on to other departments within the European Division, I would still stop by Paul's office for a catchup and to run things by him.  He would always give me good, solid advice...and was very supportive in whatever it was I was doing.  My husband, Peter Frohman, also worked for Paul and we both remember Paul fondly.  Peter still remembers (and uses) one of Paul's sayings, that 'faculty are like underwear, you can never have too many!'  For Peter and I, he will always be one of the legends of the European Division. RIP Paul. 

01/05/18 12:53 PM #3    

Deborah Tevis Noelting

I'm saddened to hear that Paul has passed away. I agree with Jacqui's sentiments (He was a genuinely very warm, caring and very funny guy....and also one of the best bosses I've ever had). I have not had a more understanding and helpful boss, ever. He made my work life easier, and one day at a time, he made the world a better place. My very best to Paul's family!

01/06/18 01:16 AM #4    

Chris Payne

Very sorry to hear about Paul. He was my first UMUC boss when I became a full-time faculty member in the UK in 1995. I remember him as a kindly, urbane and gentle man who was a pleasure to talk to. He showed me innumerable kindnesses and he will be missed by all who knew him. All condolences to his many friends and his family.

01/13/18 07:07 PM #5    

Patrick Dua

    A sad aspect of our human existence is linked closely to the inevitable process of our aging. The more we age, the greater the frequency with which we lose members of our personal circles: family relationships, friends, professional colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors. Whichever way the path of fate, destiny or randomness ultimately take us, the bitter price we pay for this incremental loss is a feeling of loneliness, especially in advanced age.

   Three departed members of our ED family, including Paul Phillips, are set within the context of what I intend to narrate below.

   One late Friday afternoon in 1984/85, I found myself at the Heidelberg office to turn in my grades and also to meet Chris Mooney as arranged previously between us. He was preparing to leave Europe and return to the US for good.  Things turned out to have been more eventful by the fact that it was also the day on which I first met Paul Phillips and LeAnn Cragun. But before then, I was to play the role of inheritor and recipient of Chris Mooney’s surplus personal items. These consisted of books, identical copies of books, an assortment of travel bags, umbrellas, rain coats; quantities of European travel guides – I never understood why Chris seemed to have sensed a need to procure so many identical items; and then, there were various Catholic devotional objects: crucifixes, artworks with Catholic motifs, etc, etc, all of which became mine on that day.

   As he helped me to load these items into my car, it was all vintage Chris Mooney as always -- with his bedazzling eccentricities: hyper; super-hyper, and talkative like a waterfall; Brit-bashing, among other things, and splendidly entertaining; every sentence uttered, partly delivered – yes -  in Latin, carried a seed to move you to laughter and more tearful laughter. Well, anyone of you who remembers Chris Mooney with his tall and imposing stature definitely knows what I mean here. Chris Mooney was the kind of person whose sheer presence caused your dampened spirits or subdued mood to just evaporate in an instant. This, to say the least, was how I knew him personally.

   Next, the two of us enter the office building. We encounter LeAnn Cragun in the lobby by accident: “Hey LeAnn”, Chris rants, “this is my African cousin Patrick. He is Irish!” Almost instantly a gentle voice beamed from the first office on the right. It was that of Paul Phillips. “Good to meet you, Patrick.  I just heard Chris say that your birthday is the 17th of March…”

This, by the way, was the last time I saw Chris Mooney.

   I was at the office again sometime in the course of the following term when I bumped into LeAnn at the photocopy machine. “Paul is looking for you”, she whispered. The first words of Paul thrown at my direction when I entered his office were characteristic; but this time the tone got me almost frozen: “Patrick, we’re going to make you rich”. After some hesitation I reckoned I needed additional details to move me to either applaud or express gratitude. In any case, what Paul meant was that he had assigned me to commute 210 kilometers to teach a morning class at Nuernberg – Schwabach. It was to be one of those so-called circuit rider courses, of limited duration, and hence no conventional class lasting eight weeks. Apparently Paul’s peculiar approach to announcing his plan to me was based on some degree of doubt on his part as to whether I was prepared to accept the assignment. On account of the distance, he seemed to think that his proposition amounted to a task bordering on outrage rather than a pleasant surprise.

   True, I had become used for some time to making long trips to teach. But such assignments were usually to handle weekend seminars, usually. offered by Monika Zwink, and  hosted sometimes at far more distant locations. However, as the case used to be with seminars, one could stay overnight and return home Sunday evenings to pursue other assignments during the following week. I had heard that not all freelancers like me were prepared to travel too far to teach.  Personally, long commutes were never an issue for me. However, a class assignment as far away as Nuernberg-Schwabach was to be a first for me.

   Paul reacted ever more cheerfully when he became assured that I had no reservations about my next term assignment. On the contrary; I looked forward to this unique assignment with adventurous spirit and positive anticipation. “By the time I get to Schwabach to start my class, I sure would be so powered out already from driving that I might need some of Chris Mooney’s pills”, I joked with Paul.

   Indeed, there were some tellingly encouraging reasons as well for my embrace of this new challenge: To begin with, I had just purchased the first (in a total series of four by 2014) of my Mazda RX-7 rotary-engine car. I had bought the car from our colleague Gerrold Bagley who had been teaching business courses in the Ramstein-Baumholder ED-Center areas. I had completed the transaction with Bagley a few days before he was to leave on some kind of mission to Iran (which I reckoned to be somewhat strange, given that country’s revolution of 1979 and the messy relationship with the US that ensued. But Bagley was a convert to the Persian faith of Bahai, so I assumed he might have been a potentially favored guest in that part of the world). Anyway, upon inspecting the contents of the car’s dossier passed on to me by Bagley, I couldn’t believe my luck. Bagley had contracted repair works on the car with a Mazda dealer in Baumholder and paid a bill to the shocking tune of 3000 DM in the previous month. So, once I obtained the keys, I could feel, drive and laugh all the way home with the confidence that I now owned the most reliable piece of vehicle ever acquired by me in my entire life!

   Second, we are dealing in the accounts here with the period prior to 1990 and the fall of the iron curtain. The autobahn stretch from Heilbronn that I was to negotiate four times a week to my assignment at Nuernberg-Schwabach happened in those days to be one of the least congested in Germany – headed at its extremes towards Czechoslovakia and the East. For me, it was a very familiar route, having been used occasionally in my journeys to teach weekend seminars at Erlangen, Furth, Wildflecken, and Nuremberg, among other places. Compared to what started to gather momentum after 1989/90 in tune with the massive flight of Easterners to West Germany, it was a thoroughly stau-free autobahn for commuters at any given time before 1990. There was, in effect, no reason for me to doubt my ability to combine a morning class at Schwabach to other evening schedules elsewhere nearer home. At the end of the term, I remember Paul giving me a very firm handshake and congratulating me for ‘having survived’.

   These, then, are the circumstances within which I came to know Paul Phillips. Over the years until Paul and LeAnn left Heidelberg for the UK, both had become old friends whom I always sought out at faculty meetings and Commencements to chat with, exchange news, and photograph with my pocket camera. In later years, I recall that LeAnn and Paul talked often about a recurrent stomach ailment affecting Paul, albeit in terms that suggested that he was coping with it very well. As commented by others above, I also remember Paul as an empathetic gentleman effusing a great deal of warmth, cordiality and natural friendliness. Concealed behind his ebullient figure and calm demeanor was a man endowed with a winning combination of infectious humor and keen wit. Comfort can surely be taken in the knowledge that the good Lord graced him with so much longevity in the company of his dear ones.

   I joined this OMA platform in October of 2016. While browsing through the past postings one night, deep sadness overwhelmed me when I read behind the In Memory tab that LeAnn Cragun and Chris Mooney had passed away in January 2007 and December 2014 respectively. I now regret that I never asked LeAnn to explain to me why she always started to sing a Gaelic song I didn’t understand whenever she saw me. May this remarkable trio of our memories rest in perpetual peace.

(Patrick Dua)


01/14/18 01:46 PM #6    

Forrest Studebaker

It is a wonderful thing that we get to know so many wonderful, creative, entertaining, and influential people over the years we teach, live, socialize.  Without intending criticism, should anyone feel compelled to comment on my passing would they just refer to my first sentence?  As the coming years are likely to see a multiplier of these entries, perhaps we are best served by celebrating life and lives lived well.  

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