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Verne D.J. Philips

Obituary for Verne D.J. Philips

November 3, 1918 - May 5, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 98


Verne D.J. Philips of Austin passed away on May 5, 2017 at the age of 98. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Lavon Philips. Verne was born in Dallas on November 3, 1918 to Vincent and Beulah Scarle Philips. There will be a service to remember and celebrate his full life on Friday, May 26th at 11am at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive.

Verne's parents met when his father was serving as a recruiting officer in Louisiana, where Beulah was a teacher. Their first son died before reaching the age of 2, and Verne was born the following year. He lost his mother after a lengthy illness when he was 12 years old. It was a loss he felt deeply for the rest of his life but he retained his love of learning, books and writing he shared with her. A couple of years later, his father married Jessie King, a young widow who had also lost a son. She and Verne were devoted to each other until her death in 1976.

Wanting to follow in his father's footsteps, he enrolled as a junior in high school at Schreiner Institute in Kerrville, TX, where he was considered the most military of cadets. Legend has it that he never received any demerits. He studied there with Henry Quinius, his best friend from Waco. Schreiner would continue to play a large role in his life, as he served on the Board of Trustees for many years watching it transform to Schreiner University. He maintained deep friendships formed at Schreiner until his death. He moved on from Schreiner Institute to the University of Texas, hoping to pursue a degree in journalism. He shifted his focus to government beginning his lifelong love of politics and policy making.

As with every one of his generation, his plans were changed by the outbreak of World War II. He served as a navigator with the 8th Air Force, flying B17's, stationed at Great Ashfield in England, returning home with several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross which he said was not that impressive.

Relieved and grateful to still be alive after the war, he returned to Austin to finish his education. He graduated from Law School on May 31st, 1948 and the next day he married Lavon Phillips from Gladewater, Texas. He returned to active duty with the Air Force as a career military Officer and served an additional 23 years with assignments at the Pentagon in the Legislative Liaison Office of the Secretary of the Air Force , Wiesbaden, Germany, and Newport News, Virginia at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, where he retired.

In 1967, he returned to Austin with his wife and daughter, Susan Scarle Philips, where he practiced law for the rest of his life. He loved Austin and Texas and was an enthusiastic member of his community.

He was very committed to the Associated Republicans of Texas,helping to grow a stronger party and seeking qualified candidates. He also served as an election judge for several decades.

In addition to his law practice, which included much pro bono work, and political involvement, he was a lobbyist with Texas Classroom Teacher Association for several years. He was an active member of the Austin Kiwanis Club for almost 50 years.

His friend Henry Quinius from Waco and Schreiner became an ordained Presbyterian Minister. Through a combination of Henry's influence and his own quiet spirituality, he was very active in every church he belonged to, serving as an Elder, a Deacon and Sunday school teacher. For years, he would have competitive and educational Bible study in his office in Austin.

Verne is survived by his only child, Susan Scarle Philips, and her family, including Marja Spearman, Verne's "honorary daughter", their children Ahmad and Rachael Spearman and their sons Andre, "The Fisherman," and Mason; and Jihan Spearman and Boris Reznikov and their son Pasha. He is also survived by many caring friends of all generations and family members.

Verne will be sorely missed by the many people and organizations whose lives he quietly impacted. We hope you will join us in remembering and celebrating his life.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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