Life Story for Marilyn Phillips
CONROE, TX – Marilyn White Phillips, 91, passed away Thursday morning, April 6, following a brief illness. Born in Mexia on February 25, 1926, Marilyn was the only child of Mary Elenor McKenzie and William Mack White. Her Mexia roots were as deep as those of her parents and her paternal grandparents, Etta B. Means and William Mack White, Sr., and her maternal grandparents, Eva Pauline Sterne and Tracy McKenzie, all of whom lived in Mexia until their deaths.
Upon graduation from Mexia High School in 1943, she went to Austin where she later graduated from the University of Texas. Following a few years of teaching school and fashion modeling in San Antonio, she married her childhood sweetheart, Thomas Albert Phillips, Jr., in Mexia on January 25, 1952. For the next 31 years, Marilyn was her husband’s faithful and fearless help-mate as his career as a US Air Force officer took them from base to base across the country, including stations of duty in Roswell, New Mexico, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Boulder, and later Colorado Springs, Colorado where Tom served as part of the founding cadre at the Air Force Academy, Dyess AFB in Abilene (twice), the Pentagon in Washington, DC, Langley AFB in Virginia and Scott AFB in Illinois. While her beloved Tom was flying missions in Vietnam in 1967-68, Marilyn kept the “home-fires” burning with their three young sons. Baseball, basketball and football practices/games, hunting and fishing trips became second nature to Marilyn while Tom was away serving our country.
Moving every few years to a new assignment provided Marilyn the opportunity to cultivate friendships from across the country, many of whom remained extremely close for many years via telephone calls, letters and many special visits. Marilyn never needed an excuse to travel to see her friends.
Fashion was a passion for Marilyn and these military assignments also enabled her to find all the best shopping malls and dress boutiques across the country, with several such fins in Colorado and Washington, DC leading to regular runway and trunk-show modeling gigs.
Marilyn’s love of history was also nourished with every new assignment. It was a regular routine for Marilyn to seek out any museum, battlefield, or cemetery of historical significance for weekend field trips for her sons.
In 1978 Marilyn and Tom chose Conroe, Texas, to spend their retirement years. It didn’t take long for the pair to make new friends and to participate in many community endeavors. Marilyn was an active member of Beta Delta (local women’s service guild and later social sorority), the Thomas Jefferson Stubbs Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Coushatti Trace Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Judge Nathaniel H. Davis Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. As an alumna of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority, Marilyn also enjoyed many years of service as the Panhellenic Advisor for Montgomery County which garnered her a national award of recognition. She was also very active in local, state and national politics as a contributor and volunteer for numerous campaigns and the Montgomery County Republican Party, serving as a delegate for several State Party Conventions.
Marilyn was also a proud alumna of the University of Texas, becoming an annual foundation donor and enjoying many years of attending Texas Longhorn football games. It was particularly exciting when Marilyn’s group of friends won “HEB Tailgate of the Year” in 2012.
The outdoors played a big part in Marilyn’s life as she was always game to follow her family on hunting and fishing trips, as well as attending just about every hunting and gun show within reach of her husband and three boys. Her sons loved to tease her that she liked going with them so she could wear her fashionable animal print outfits that she so enjoyed.
Marilyn was also an avid fan of tennis, enjoying many years of playing doubles for the River Plantation Women’s League, providing her boys another opportunity to tease her about liking tennis because it gave her a chance to wear all of her cute tennis outfits.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her husband, Tom, and her son, Thomas Mack Phillips. She is survived by her sons and their families, Hon. M. Lance Phillips and wife Jan Schwethelm Phillips of Mexia, and Mark McKenzie Phillips and wife Meredith Young Phillips of Conroe. Her grandchildren are Brady Phillips Lehmann and husband Corey Lehmann of Kerrville, TX, Thomas Chase Phillips of Kerrville, TX, Thomas Drew Phillips of Austin, TX and Austin McKenzie Phillips of Conroe, TX.
A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Conroe at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Interment will be at the Mexia Cemetery in Mexia, TX. The graveside service will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14, 2017.