Hilliard (Hank) Folk Phillips went to be with our Lord on May 8, 2017. He was born on June 16, 1934 in Nashville, Tennessee to Hilliard Deck and Emily Folk Phillips. From his early years in Nashville, he had two favorite memories. One was watching the World War II soldiers board the trains at Union Station. This began a lifelong fascination with the war and the men who fought it, collecting many books on the subject. The other was his dad talking to their apartment neighbor, a Vanderbilt assistant football coach named Paul “Bear” Bryant.
He moved to St. Augustine, Florida at the age of ten where he developed lifelong friendships and “borrowed” an alligator from the Alligator Farm. At Ketterlinus High School, he lettered in football (East Florida Conference Champions multiple years), was Vice President of the “K” Club, and was elected the King of the Prom. In 1950, President Harry Truman visited Ketterlinus and at the age of 16, Hank’s father passed away in his arms. He graduated from high school in 1952.
He then attended and played football at the University of the South (Sewanee) for a year before serving in the United States Army for two years stationed in Germany. After being honorably discharged, he studied and graduated from Vanderbilt University in Civil Engineering.
His first job in the engineering profession was with the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville. There he met Sylvia Elaine Anderson, a student at the University of Tennessee, on a blind date. Without a car, and living at the YMCA for a dollar a day (membership included), Hank and Sylvia walked on many of their early dates. They were married on Feb. 27, 1960 at Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) on Lookout Mountain and honeymooned in the Smokey Mountains. The weekend following their wedding, Lookout Mountain was under evacuation due to the worst ice storm it ever experienced.
On November 11th, 1961 their first son was born, Michael Ward, followed by their second son, Tedford Folk, in February 3rd, 1962 and baptized at St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville. Later in 1962, they moved their growing family to Jacksonville, Florida to join the Army Corps of Engineers. Their first and only daughter, Nancy Kimbrough, was born the following year on February 8th, 1963. The young family lived most of their early years in the San Souci neighborhood of Jacksonville and built many wonderful friendships. Hank coached little league baseball and football. While in Florida, they took many trips to visit his mother in St. Augustine, fish on the beach, as well as, scuba dive in the crystal springs of central Florida. There were family trips to Key West, Lookout Mountain, the Smokey Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon as well as visiting his sister’s family in Roanoke, Boston, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh. In the early 1970’s, his mother passed away in his arms at their home in Jacksonville.
In 1973, Hank was transferred to the Nashville office of the Corps of Engineers, where he and Sylvia were long time members of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, before becoming members of the Church of the Redeemer. This was a wonderful time of spiritual nurture, growth and service for the family. Hank always enjoyed physical exercise and was an active member of the YMCA for over 60 years. He was retired from the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1990’s and enjoyed spending more time with family and friends, especially on trips to the Kanuga retreat center in North Carolina and traveling back to St. Augustine to visit family and friends.
Hank is survived by his wife, three children, and twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, his sister, Mary Ruth Moreland and her family. His passion and life’s fulfillment came from his family, his faith, and working out at the “Y”.
A celebration of the life of Hank Phillips will be held at 3:00 pm on Saturday, May 13th at Church of the Redeemer, 920 Caldwell Lane, Nashville with visitation starting at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Compassion.com.