Harry Watson Philips

October 12, 1925 ~ October 5, 2020 (age 94)


     Harry Philips, age 94, died October 5, 2020 at Hospice of the Carolina Foothills in Forest City, North Carolina. He was born to Volney and Eleanor Philips, in Fisher, LA, on October 12, 1925.

     He spent his childhood years in Natchitoches, LA, and Tallahassee, FL. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1947 and started a commercial real estate business in Tallahassee. He married Virginia Dickson in April 1950 and they shared almost 57 years of marriage prior to her death in 2007. In 1955, after attending a conference in Montreat, NC, he sensed a call to the Presbyterian ministry and, shortly thereafter, sold his real estate business and home in Tallahassee FL, and entered Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, to train for a career in ministry. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1980. Harry was the organizing pastor of Rivermont Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga TN. He also served churches in Brevard, NC, Charlotte, NC, and Roswell, GA.

     Harry was a member of and served on many community organizations and education boards. He was an active member of his presbyteries and was a faithful witness to Jesus Christ. He and his wife, Ginny, were a great team and possessed the gift of hospitality. He had a caring pastor’s heart, forged in part by the loss of a child early in his ministry and the loss of a grandchild in the last days of his active ministry.

     Harry possessed a contagious joy for life, a twinkle in his eye that often found its way into good-natured mischief, and an optimism that served him well, rooted in his faith. He was a favorite among friends and relatives for the fun that seemed to surround him and he possessed a wry sense of humor well into his last weeks. He and Ginny, first with their children, and in retirement with each other, traveled the country pulling a trailer and later driving a motorhome until the age of 80. He also loved his family, both immediate and extended, and had a special place in his heart for his son, and namesake, Hal, who continues to struggle with the ravages of multiple sclerosis. Harry had a strong tenor voice and dearly enjoyed singing in church choirs, singing the praises of his God. His daughters particularly enjoyed his tenor voice as he sang in their respective church choirs past the age of 90.

     He is preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ginny; daughter, Katie; grandson, David Averett; brother and sister-in-law, Davison and Kay Philips; sister and brother-in-law, Katherine and George Long; brother Volney Graham; two nephews, Jim and Graham Philips; and his son-in-law, Hal Averett.

     Harry is survived by daughter Betty Douglas (Rusty) of Montreat, NC; daughter Gina Averett, of Columbus, GA; son, Hal Philips of Pineville, NC; grandchildren Katharine Taylor of Greenwood MS, Anna Johnson (Tyler) of Atlanta, GA, Harry Averett (Stephanie) of Charleston, SC; Philip Douglas (Marcie) of Freeport, FL; two great-granddaughters, Ginny and Brett Taylor, another great-granddaughter soon to arrive, and beloved nieces and nephews and their families.

     Harry lived most of the last decade in Montreat, NC and with his two daughters in their respective homes. The family would like to acknowledge the gracious care which he received in these last few years from the retailers in Black Mountain, the post office staff and friends in Montreat, the tenor section of the choir at First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, MS, the Lodge Companions and staff at Givens Highland Farms, and the staff at the Hospice of the Carolina Foothills facility.

      In his last years, Harry grew more and more lonely, as those with whom he had shared so much of his life, died. His family and friends rejoice in the knowledge that he will never be alone again as he reunites with so many in the presence of his loving Savior. Well done, good and faithful servant.

     A memorial service will take place at a later date. Harry‘s minister son-in-law often closes funeral services with these words, which we now claim for Harry, “We have not heard the last of Harry Philips, because we have not heard the last of his Lord“.


     Gifts in Harry‘s memory may be sent to: Montreat Conference Center, PO Box 969, Montreat, NC 28757, or Rivermont Presbyterian Church, 3411 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37415.


     Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the Philips family with arrangements.

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