Obituary: Robert Vern Phillips
Decorated US Navy veteran, engineer, hunter, pilot, artist
On the one-year anniversary of his death on October 25, 2017, the family of Robert Vern Phillips remembers their dearly loved husband, father and grandfather.
He was born November 19, 1928 in Fremont, Ohio, the eldest of three children. Throughout his life his given name, Robert, was exchanged with nicknames such as Bobby and Bob, and through his business he was known as RVP.
His work ethic was influenced by growing up during the depression years of the 1930s and the war years of the 1940s. When he was 8 and 9-years-old he worked summers pulling weeds in the local dill fields and gathering scrap iron and old newspaper. By the seventh grade he was working after school and on weekends setting pins by hand at the local bowling alley.
In the summer of 1944, when he was 15, he obtained seaman papers from the US Coast Guard and worked on the Great Lakes iron ore freighter Elton Hoyt II. In 1946, at 17, he graduated from high school and enlisted in the US Navy. He served in the Pacific Theater at the end of World War II on the USS Fort Marion (LSD-22), touring to Alaska, Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and many of the war torn islands of the Pacific. He received the American Campaign, World War II Victory and Good Conduct medals.
Following his honorable discharge from the Navy, he enrolled at Bowling Green State University on the GI Bill, where he met his future wife, Eudora Louise Morris. After graduating from BGSU with a degree in industrial engineering he moved to California.
He and Louise were engaged in 1956 and married in Ohio on June 8, 1957. The newlyweds then returned to California where they made their permanent home. Mr. Phillips earned his master’s degree at Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) in 1961, and in 1970 started Robert Phillips and Associates, known as RPA, Inc., an international management consulting business.
With RPA he made more than 100 trips to Mexico and worked in most major cities in the United States. He also held state industrial engineering, notary and real estate licenses. He loved the outdoors and took his family on camping adventures every summer to see beautiful national parks and historic landmarks in the United States and Canada, visiting many relatives and friends along the way.
Mr. Phillips was always passionate about flying and earned his private pilot’s license at Cable Airport in Upland, and shared his love of aviation with all his grandchildren by taking them to see the Cable Air Show each January.
He was an avid big game hunter and collected trophies from Alaska, Utah, Canada, Mexico and Africa. Anyone who visited the Phillips home over the years can attest to the animal decor in their family room, his family shared. He was a sharpshooting billiards player who honed his skills as a young man in the pool halls of Sandusky County, Ohio. He continued to enjoy the billiards ladder competition at his neighborhood community center even up until just a year or so before his death.
In contrast to his engineering background, Mr. Phillips was also artistically inclined. He learned to play violin as a child and often played along with his children during their piano lessons. He also studied ceramics, furniture making, woodturning and papermaking, and created many beautiful ceramic, wood and paper art pieces over the years. Additionally, he designed and supervised the construction of their third Claremont home, in Claraboya.
He traveled the world with his wife Louise, visiting Mexico, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Western and Middle Europe, where he researched his family heritage in Tamasi, Hungary.
The couple lived in three different homes in Claremont while raising their children Nancy Louise, Robert Scott and Mary Beth who, along with their spouses Tom Manix (Nancy), Susie Johnson (Rob), and Rik Newby (Mary), gave them eight grandchildren, Andrew, Lauren, and Matthew Manix; Austin and Kathryn Phillips; and Richard, Colin and Bryce Newby.
In 1999 they moved to Mission Viejo, California to be near their children and grandchildren.
In 2012 Mr. Phillips was diagnosed with cancer and given four to six months to live. True to his nature, he took this as a challenge, opting for no treatment, and enjoyed life for five more years. He continued traveling, playing billiards, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and performances, and celebrated five more years of holidays, birthdays and milestones with his family, as well as his 60th wedding anniversary with Louise. His family said they were grateful to honor his well-lived life.
Mr. Phillips is laid to rest in Oak Park Cemetery, near his first home in Claremont on Sycamore Drive.