Robert Allen Phillips Jr., of Adamsville, was born Feb. 23, 1916, to Robert Allen Phillips and Annice Donaldson Phillips of Adamsville.
He died on Friday, Feb. 9, at the age of 101.
His mother died in childbirth when he was 5 years old, but he still had vivid memories of her teaching him the alphabet and how to read using the Memphis Commercial Appeal Newspaper. He attended Adamsville elementary and high schools and graduated salutatorian of his class in 1933.
He joined First Christian Church of Adamsville in the late 1920s and being a Christian was a very important part of his life. He served as an elder, deacon, chairman of the board, and adult Sunday school class teacher for many years.
During the depth of the depression in 1933, without any money, and just an unquenchable desire to go to college, he left home and went to Milligan College in East Tennessee for one year. With interim teaching and farming jobs he made enough money to enter the University of Tennessee and graduated cum laude in 1939 with a B.S. degree in agricultural education. During his senior year he was inducted into Alpha Zeta, an agricultural honorary fraternity, Phi Delta Kappa, an honorary educational fraternity, and Phi Kappa Phi, an honorary scholastic fraternity.
One of his interim teaching jobs was teaching all eight grades in the one room Hurricane school just north of Adamsville.
In the spring of 1938 he married Willie Ruth Smith. They were together until she died in 2004. He started his agricultural teaching career in 1939 at Decaturville, Tennessee and moved to Morris Chapel in 1941, continuing his teaching career there until 1963 when the high school closed. While at Morris Chapel, in addition to his teaching duties, he managed the lunch room, kept score at basketball games, and was especially proud of his AG boys in FFA who did so well in winning numerous awards and contests.
In 1954 he received his Masters degree from the University of Tennessee and subsequently took sufficient classes to obtain a PhD degree but never completed dissertation. He taught at Hardin County High School in 1964-65 before joining the Tennessee Sate Manpower Program as an instructor of instructors.
He was appointed Hardin County Judge for an interim period and finished the term in 1974. He returned to teaching and finished out his career at Hardin County High School in 1980. He valued education highly.
He and wife Willie Ruth enjoyed a retirement of world travel and small time farming until Willie Ruth became sick in the late 1990s. During the summer until he reached the age of 97, he could be seen by passerbys working in his garden or selling vegetables and watermelons from his pickup truck along US 64. He also enjoyed the outdoors and liked to hunt and fish. He was a Woodman and a Mason.
He is survived by his son, Dr. Bobby Mal Phillips (Brenda) of Jonesborough, Tennessee; grandson, Shane Allen Phillips of Maryville, Tennessee; step-granddaughter, Heather Rhea Gilreath (Lance) of Jonesborough, Tennessee; great-grandson, Jackson Robert Phillips of Maryville, Tennessee; great-granddaughter, Reese McKenna Phillips of Maryville, Tennessee; and stepgreat-grandson, Thomas Jefferson Klosterman of Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Services were held on Monday, Feb. 12, at 11 a.m., at First Christian Church in Adamsville with Clint Hopper officiating. Burial followed in Crump Cemetery at Crump.