Paul J. Phillips Jr., 89, longtime supporter of Phila.'s St. Patrick's Day Parade

Paul J. Phillips Jr.
Paul J. Phillips Jr.
Posted: March 03, 2013

Paul J. Phillips Jr., 89, whose Irish Catholic heritage was reflected in his longtime nurturing of Philadelphia's St. Patrick's Day Parade, died Tuesday, Feb. 26, of heart failure at Sunrise Assisted Living in Media.

Mr. Phillips became a member of the DeSoto Council No. 315, Knights of Columbus, in 1948 and rose to grand knight. The chapter elected him chairman for its annual participation in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Thus was born a lifelong devotion to the event.

In 1960, Mr. Phillips joined the St. Patrick's Day Observance Association. He served as treasurer for 48 years and president from 1988 to 1990. In 1995, he led the parade as grand marshal.

"He considered his work on the parade a labor of love," said his son Christopher Jude.

His Irish Catholic heritage propelled him toward membership in many organizations: Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 65, Philadelphia Emerald Society, Philadelphia Irish Society, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Catholic War Vets VFW Post 7390, Irish of Havertown, and the Broomall Card Club.

In 2006, he was inducted into the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame along with Patricia Bonner, Jim White, and Sen. Arlen Specter. "This was one of his proudest moments," his son said.

In 2007, he was presented with an honorary membership in the Quaker City String Band. He had traveled with the band in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Ireland, to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In 2008, he and friend Jim Kilgallen received the Fleadh an Earraigh Award from Division 65 for service to the organization, his son said.

Born in South Philadelphia to Paul and Mary O'Donnell Phillips, he graduated in 1941 from Southeast Catholic High School, now Neumann-Goretti.

He served in the U.S. Naval Air Forces for 38 months during World War II as a radio airman. He was assigned to the Pacific theater, but was most proud of participating in the liberation of American and Filipino prisoners of the Bataan Death March.

He was honorably discharged from the service in 1946 and from the Navy Reserve in 1953.

He married Dorothy H. Quinn in 1950. The two had three children. Widowed in 1976, he married Alice "Dolly" Field Wilson in 1981 and inherited six children. She died in 2005. The family lived in Broomall.

Mr. Phillips was a Sears, Roebuck & Co. employee for 30 years, working as a contract salesman. During that time, he also worked for Philadelphia United Insurance Co., collecting debts in West Philadelphia.

He retired in 2009 after 25 years with Design & Supply Co. of Chalfont, where he worked in sales.

"He believed in hard work and honesty, in his work and life," said his son.

Mr. Phillips was active with the Millay Club of Southeast Catholic/Bishop Neumann/St. John Neumann High School. He served as president for three years and was on its board of directors until his death.

He considered the work with alumni his first fraternal love. In 2005 he was honored with the Norbertine Fathers' Abbot Pennings Award, given to an alumnus who epitomizes the incorporation of Catholic faith into everyday life.

Surviving, in addition to his son, are sons Francis and Paul Joseph 3d; stepchildren Alice, James, Michael, Jeanne, Margaret, and John; 23 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and eight nieces and nephews.

A viewing will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 220 Lawrence Rd., Broomall. Another viewing will be from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Monday, March 4, at the church, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass. Interment will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.

Donations may be sent to Malvern Retreat House, 315 S. Warren Ave., Malvern, Pa. 19355.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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