Rev. Dr. Don E. Phillips, loving husband, father, brother, friend, published author, hospice chaplain, poet, singer-songwriter, and spirited dancer, died peacefully at his home in Lawrence on March 20th, 2019.
He was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in December 1943, to Dorothy (Bailey) and Gene Phillips. He and his younger brother Larry grew up surrounded by the love of two sets of grandparents, and a loving, mischievous, fun bunch of cousins.
Throughout his adult life, Don was bi-vocational. He was a Professor of Communication Studies in many universities, and served as full-time and interim Pastor in many churches. After retiring from Washburn University, Topeka, he worked as a chaplain with Midland Hospice.
In the academic field, Don was considered an authority on the theologian Karl Barth, and the student protest movement of the 1960’s. His books and many articles are housed in most University libraries across the world. He enjoyed animated academic conversations and wore his intelligence and accomplishments with humility.
Don enjoyed writing and reading poetry, had poems published in several compilations, and was thrilled when Lulu Roman recorded one of his songs.
Thanks to his friends at the American Legion, Don discovered dancing two years ago. It became a source of deep joy and delight for him, and gave him temporary relief from the ravages of Parkinson’s disease. He enjoyed his weekly sessions with Junkyard Jazz and, right to the end of his life, looked forward to the day when he would be able to return to dancing.
Don’s gentle nature, easy smile, and humor attracted friends of all ages and nationalities and he had a steady stream of visitors to offer love and support during the last months of his life. He was known to communicate with animals including deer and donkeys, was open to new experiences whenever presented, and was a life-long learner.
Don’s deep Christian faith, hope and love shone brightly throughout his life, but especially during his valiant journey with Parkinson’s disease during the last twelve years. He was brave and philosophical, and when the time came, chose, with God’s help, to prepare for his death at home supported by Visiting Nurses Hospice.
Don was a true Christian gentleman and will be greatly missed by many. He is survived by his wife Eileen, daughters Rebecca, Laura and her husband Don Snyder, and his brother Larry and wife Dawn.
Special thanks to Marilyn Meir, Judy Allen, Jane Cottita, the staff of Visiting Nurses Hospice, Rev. Debbie Garber, and a wide circle of friends and neighbors whose love and practical help sustained Don on his final journey into eternal life. Thanks to all who attended the wake and service at the house, especially to Rev. Paul Gray who gave the final prayer and blessing, and played “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on his trombone as Don’s body left the home for private cremation.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Visiting Nurses Hospice, in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044.