Sept. 12, 1926 — July 21, 2017
Albert Phillips — What about this loving man? Lessons from Albert’s appreciation of popular poetry informed those closest to him, as to his values.
Abou Ben Adhem, “Write me as one that loves his fellow man”
Frankie and Johnny, “They swore to be true to each other, As true as the ALBERT stars above” PHILLIPS
Sixteen Tons, “Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘casue I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store”
Gunga Din, “The finest man I knew was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din”
Casey at the Bat, “For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat”
Albert grew up in Vandergrift, a steel mill town northeast of Pittsburgh. He was born to Sam, an immigrant from Syria, and Margaret, a first-generation American whose family came from Lebanon. Sam and Margaret had 10 children, and although the family greatly enjoyed each other’s company, they were all together for the first time in 1965 at a reunion at Albert and Jean’s home in Annapolis.
During high school, Albert was persuaded to go to the University of Pittsburgh, on scholarship, to play football. School was interrupted by WWII and a stint in the Navy. Upon return, his coach, Clark Shaughnessy, visited the family and convinced Albert to transfer to the University of Maryland, where two great love affairs began — with his future wife Jean and with the University. Albert was a football star at Maryland and played in the first North/South All Star game. Graduating with an accounting degree, he developed a great affinity for the university and the Terps sports teams, both of which he and Jean supported all of their life.
Albert’s loving relationship of 65 years, with his wife, Jean Eskridge Phillips, raised on a farm near Cambridge, Md., was the foundation for the greatness of this man. They brought into this world seven children from 1950 to 1960 — Alan, Hollis, Byron, Gregory, Matthew, Pamela and Wayne. And then raised them to be successful, dutiful citizens. Albert and Jean were very much a supportive, positive team as they met the opportunities and challenges of life.
In 1961, with seven young children and borrowed funds, Albert and Jean started Phillips Machinery and Supply, which exists today as the global supplier of manufacturing technology, Phillips Corporation. The business start was in question as Albert had no money nor assets and therefore his business plan was rejected at the local banks. The dad of Albert’s University of Maryland football roommate’s wife, a local artisan who immigrated from Italy, lent Albert $25,000 to start his business. Once started, Albert had total confidence as to the success of his enterprise — having a family of nine, provided necessity enough.
Three major life setbacks were the loss of his brother Sam in 1985, his son Byron in 2007 and the loss of his wife Jean in 2013.
Albert contributed much to the community beyond the success of Phillips Corporation and his engagement with the University of Maryland. He was the president of the Prince George’s Kiwanis, through which he developed many lifelong friendships. He was also president of the greater region for Kiwanis. He was a director of the National Association of Arab Americans. He had the opportunity to visit the White House multiple times to provide advice to Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr. He was quite proud of a picture of himself at the White House with President Reagan and Frank Sinatra. He served on various boards during his life and was chairman of Annapolis National Bank.
In their later years, Albert and Jean resided in Cambridge, Md., where they connected with Jean’s family and developed strong loving relationships with a community of friends and supporters. After Jean’s passing, this group included his close friend, Bonnie Thorton.
Albert was the most opportunity-oriented man imaginable. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. He used to say he planned to live forever; he almost made it to 91. He passed away in the arms of his brother, Gabriel, on the early morning of Friday the 21st, having been conscious only moments before.
There will be a memorial service on Monday, Aug. 14, 11 a.m. at St. Mary Refuge of Sinners Catholic Church in Cambridge, Md., followed by a luncheon.
The Phillips family will appreciate any charitable donations to Horn Point Laboratories (which is an oyster restoration facility), P.O. Box 775, Cambridge, MD 21613, checks payable to USM Foundation.