Many good words were used Friday afternoon at First Baptist Church in Oxford when talking about Jeanette Phillips.
And there could have been lots more. In describing her, good words never stop.
Terms mentioned during the celebration of her life included love, genuine, kindness, dedication, patience and most of all, faith.
Sometimes we overlook the definition of such words.
Love – an intense feeling of deep affection.
Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.
Patience – bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.
Faith – strong belief in God.
Mrs. Phillips, 85, died June 13, a little more than 15 months after the passing of her husband of 60 years, Jesse Phillips.
I came to know Mr. and Mrs. Phillips through the newspaper business. When I moved to Mississippi 31 years ago, I met them shortly thereafter at a Mississippi Press Association Convention. I learned quickly to lean on them for advice.
Sixteen years ago, when I moved to Holly Springs to take over leadership of The South Reporter, I developed a much closer relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips.
My family’s visits in their home were always uplifting.
I shared the same feelings as Robert Allen, officiating minister Friday at the celebration of Mrs. Phillips’ life.
He said he often stopped by to see Mrs. Phillips because he needed encouragement.
“Me, too,” I thought.
Allen called Mrs. Phillips “a natural leader” and “a model citizen.”
During her distinguished career at the University of Mississippi, she served in all professional ranks as well as chair of the Department of Home Economics. In 1991, she and others accepted the challenge and responsibility of building an institute for child nutrition professionals. Through her tenacity and vision, she led the lobbying effort to locate the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi.
On campus, you will find a street named in her honor – Jeanette Phillips Drive.
“Her life was a channel of blessings,” Allen said. “She was always teaching.”
Here is a portion of a Scripture reading by one of Mrs. Phillips’ grandsons.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; be thankful.”
– Colossians 3:12-15.
After that reading, the minister said, “That’s a passage she lived out every day.”
Jeanette Phillips influenced a lot of lives for the better, including mine and those of my wife and children.
And for that, like so many, we will be forever grateful.