Robert Abner Phillips, 90, of Gordonsville, VA died peacefully on Wednesday evening, August 26th, 2020, at his home in Gordonsville, VA with his three children, Valerie, Robert, and Daniel and his daughters-in-law, Kelly, and Stacy, by his side.
Born October 3, 1929 in Ashland, AL, Bob was the son of the late Robert Abner Phillips and Lillian Vernie Martin Phillips. He grew up in Ashland and graduated from Clay County High School where he participated in the “A” Club for football, Future Farmers of America, and yearbook as the sports editor. He attended Marion Institute in Marion, AL before entering the US Naval Academy from which he graduated in June 1952.
Commander Phillips’ 24-year career as a naval aviator included more than 13 years at sea and foreign service to include two tours in Viet Nam as attack squadron VA-23 operations officer, two tours in the Mediterranean as both the Executive and Commanding Officer for VA-72 and, a two-year tour with the Sixth Fleet Staff while stationed in Gaeta, Italy. His final duty station was at the Pentagon as the Naval Training Planning and Program officer. He attended the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, 1963-64 and Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, FL, 1953. He received numerous commendations including 24 Air Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Unit Commendation, Viet Nam Service and Campaign medals.
Bob retired from the Navy in 1976 to pursue a second career in the accounting field. He earned an associate degree in Applied Science in Accounting, SUMMA CUM LAUDE, from Northern Virginia Community College before beginning his 18-year career as the Director of Financial and Support Services for the American Health Care Association, AHCA. During his tenure, Bob was largely responsible for the transformation of AHCA from a basic paper-based accounting process relying on typewriters and paper ledgers to a first-class technology based financial management operation.
Bob retired from AHCA in 1996 to help Betty with her real estate business, their growing family with 9 grandchildren and pursue his lifelong dream of finding the perfect place to create his family’s legacy. He and Betty established Winding Brook Farm in Gordonsville, VA in 1997 and moved there a few years later to enjoy nearly 20 years together in retirement while creating a welcoming home for many family gatherings for their growing family.
Throughout his life, Bob enjoyed hunting and fishing, gardening and small farming, music, and dancing, playing bridge and chess, watching football, Go Navy! Go Tide! He was skilled in many areas including, carpentry and electrical work and his innovative and creative mind always had a new project brewing.
Bob is survived by his daughter, Valerie Phillips Kaiser (Bruce), sons, Robert Abner Phillips, III. (Kelly), Daniel Sanders Phillips (Stacy),sisters Martha Gentry, and Jerri McLain, sisters-in-law Patricia Miller, (Bill), Susan Stygler Johnson, (Lynn), brother-in-law John Boozer, (Carolyn), brother-in-law, Buddy Burdette, ten grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Bob was preceded in death by his wife Betty Jane Phillips (nee Boozer).
A private viewing will be held on August 29, 2020 at Preddy’s Funeral Home in Gordonsville, VA followed by a virtual service after Labor Day. He will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.