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Nov. 30, 1942–Aug. 20, 2018

With typical grace and acceptance, Colonel Richard F. Phillips (Dick), USAF-retired, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Aug. 20, 2018.

He was born on 30 November, 1942 in the small town of Greenville, Maine.  His family later moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, where he graduated from high school in 1960 and later at the University of Massachusetts in 1964. He played varsity soccer and hockey for UMass, was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and, via ROTC, was commissioned an Air Force Second Lieutenant upon graduation. Dick graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Craig AFB in Selma, Alabama, in February 1966 and following F-4C Phantom Training in Arizona, was assigned to the 91st Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters, U.K. Follow-on flying assignments included Phu Cat Air Base in Vietnam and Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Through the “Bootstrap” program, he obtained his master’s degree in education from Arizona State University, and then proceeded to Headquarters, Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia.  Midway through his next assignment, still flying F-4 Phantoms at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Dick was selected to be among the first Kadena pilots to check out in the F-15 Eagle at Luke AFB and then remain in the states for one year to instruct follow-on Kadena pilots transitioning into the F-15. Dick was next assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley where he reconnected with a best friend, Janice Hudgins, who would soon become his wife. He would tell anyone who would listen, this was the best thing that ever happened to him. Dick completed his AF career with tours at Headquarters, Tactical Air Command, Air War College, and a tour with Logistics Command as the F-15 System Program Manager at Robins AFB, Georgia. Dick considered his Air Force and flying experiences much like Br’er Rabbit—the ultimate briar patch. He loved almost every minute of it and his Air Force friends remained close and special. His Air Force awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and 14 Air Medals. The second phase of Dick’s career would be working for Northrop Grumman Corp., as a Manager of Business Development in Hampton, Virginia. He loved this job, as well, but after 14 years, he decided to retire in order to pursue personal objectives, primarily sailing. He and Janice enjoyed sailing Watermark, along the Maine and Massachusetts coasts for months at a time, as well as exploring much of the Chesapeake Bay. Golf was another love and he and Janice had great times on numerous golf vacations, including playing some of the finest courses in the world in Ireland and Spain. Incidentally, the first three times Dick played golf were at St. Andrews (Old Course) and Carnoustie (2 rounds). They were founding members at the Piankatank River Golf Course and met many wonderful people through this venue.

Dick and Jan built a house in New Point overlooking Horn Harbor in the early ’90s. Again, this was a fortunate decision as Dick grew to love Janice’s hometown, Mathews County. Both were active with the local YMCA and Dick headed the Capital Campaign for the new Y facility. Dick never ceased to be amazed by the caring, generous people in this small rural community and considered Mathews his home.

In addition to Janice, his best friend and loving wife of 37 years, survivors include their son, Rick; brother, Allen (Anita); nieces, Deborah, Tracy, Marty; nephew, Dan (Leisha); grand-nieces, Nicole and Graceanne. Dick was fortunate to have numerous loving relatives on Jan’s side of the family, as well:  Jan’s sisters, Joanna Nix and Betsy Ripley, and their children, Joice Burnette (Steve), Terry Robinson, Amy Halliwell (Dave), Susan Ripley, Holt Ripley (Laura), and Jessica Newsome (Jerimiah).

The family extends special thanks to Dick and Janice’s longtime dear friend, Jerry McElroy. Dick wanted his friends and family to know how much he appreciated their love and kindnesses throughout his life, but especially, as he battled this terrible disease. He truly lived the life he wanted to live (just not long enough, in his words), and considered himself a lucky man.

A celebration of Dick’s life will be held on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, at 2 p.m. at the Mathews Family YMCA, 33 Cricket Hill Road, Hudgins, Va.

Faulkner Funeral Homes, Foster-Faulkner Chapel, Mathews, is assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mathews Community Foundation, Richard and Janice Phillips Fund for the Mathews Family YMCA, P.O. Box 1037, Mathews, Va. 23109 or the Mathews Family YMCA Capital Campaign, P.O. Box 1536, Mathews, Va. 23109 or a charity of your choice.