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Hugh James Phillips

04/06/1922 - 08/01/2020
Service Date: 08/14/2020
Service Time: 1:00 pm
Service Location: Eagar Cemetery
Interment: Eagar Cemetery

Hugh J. Phillips, 98, passed away August 1, 2020, at home in Tempe, Arizona.

A private interment in Eager, Arizona was held for immediate family with a memorial service to be held later when a larger gathering is appropriate.

He was born April 6, 1922 in Salt Lake City to William Dolphas and Ethel Garn Phillips, the fifth of their six children. He grew up in Salt Lake City and moved to Southern California after high school. While there he worked for Lockheed building airplanes which helped further his lifelong love for aircraft. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, the precursor to today’s Air Force. He served in World War II in the 500th Bomb Group of the the 882nd Bomb Squadron from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945. During that time, he was stationed in Saipan and flew 35 bomb missions over Japan as a ring gunner in his beloved B-29.

Upon returning home he pursued a zoology degree at UCLA, earning his bachelor degree in 1951. He then taught seminary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Star Valley, Wyoming. After a few years of teaching he moved to Provo, Utah to pursue a graduate degree at BYU. While attending BYU, he was set up on a blind date with a beautiful music student, Harriet Hamblin, and they soon became sweethearts. In 1955 he completed a master’s degree in zoology and wed his sweetheart. They moved to Mesa, Arizona where he taught seminary until becoming the first biology professor at the new Mesa Community College. He loved being a teacher and was very proud of the biology department at MCC and especially the many nursing students he taught. He remained at MCC until his retirement in 1983.

In his retirement he served a mission in the Mesa Family History Library with his wife and subsequently they served as temple workers in the Mesa Temple. These years of service in the church to his fellowmen and his Savior, Jesus Christ, were very satisfying and fulfilling for him. He was able to bless the lives of many people as he provided service in both of these callings.

Following the death of his beloved Harriet in 2002, he turned much of his attention to working with veterans and civic groups. Hugh and Harriet moved their family to Tempe in 1965, where he spent the remaining years of his life. He was a passionate advocate for Tempe, and served many years on his Neighborhood Association Board. During his last years, Hugh enjoyed serving with veteran’s groups as he presented educational programs in the schools and worked to record the service histories of many veterans for inclusion in the Smithsonian Museum.

Hugh is survived by one son, Hugh H. Phillips and two daughters, Priscilla (James) Benitez and Louise (Bruce) Polay, 13 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. He loved his family passionately and spent countless hours in service to them. His presence in the family circle will be sorely missed.


  • Dad was a fine educator, inspiring Latter-day Saint and a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He is already sorely missed

  • My thoughts and prayers are with the Philipps family. Hugh was an incredible man. It was an honor and a privilege to meet him and call him a friend.

  • Hugh was a One of a Kind Class Act Man and Friend!! We met in a very odd way(as patients of a Rehabilitation center after surgery) and I feel Beyond Blessed that God shared the Love of aquainting us in such a way.

    I was 36 and Hugh was 92; we had come from Polar opposite backgrounds, but we couldn’t have been closer in life at that time. We shared stories and lessons, fresh cooked Mexican food in our room, Jamba Juice smoothies and Prayer. It seems in the end of our stay and the beginning of our friendship; that we did not come from such different lives, nor were not so different after all!

    May everyone move forward peacefully knowing Hugh is back in the arms of his true Love for ever and eternity!!!

    I Love You Hugh!!

  • I have known Hugh for several years and sure sad to have him pass. My association with him is through his work with Veterans and I am Vice President of B-29 Museum in Pratt preserving the history of the B-29 program that forced Japan to surrender in two years and stopped WW II saving millions of lives. PAAF trained 497th Bomb Group B-29 crews at Pratt Army Air Field. Kansas had four Army Air Fields and Hugh trained at Victoria AAF with the 500th Bomb Group. Japanese aggression was a serious threat to our USA and Hugh and 10,000 others in the B-29 Program served our country well and stopped the war. On annual trips to Timpe I have taken Hugh to his favorite Boston Market and worked with him in making a B-29 Museum scrapbook recording his Army service and got his Service Medals updated which he was so proud of. I recorded a lot of his interesting B-29 history and will be passing it on to future generations. 6206722458

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