Foster Maxwell Phillips died at home in Brewster, Massachusetts on April 23, 2013. Born in Puebla, Mexico to missionary parents, Harry Augustus Phillips and Ellen Ramsay Phillips on November 20, 1925, he resided in Mexico until the age of six, when the family settled in the United States in Laredo, Texas.
As a young person, he excelled in marksmanship, music (playing the trombone) and in football. He finished his high school studies early with the aid of his mother, who tutored him in a number of subjects. He then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising to the rank of Captain. He saw action in the South Pacific in World War II, and also later, for several years, during the Korean conflict. Following World War II he finished his college education, graduating from Yale University in 1948. While attending Yale in 1948, he met and married his first wife Ann Snyder Phillips, then a nursing student at Mary Hitchcock School of Nursing in New Hampshire. Following graduation and his service in the Korean War, he worked as a sales manager for Revere Copper and Brass.
He had many careers and occupations in his life. In the early 1960’s, feeling the “call” to serve as a minister, he enrolled at Andover Newton Seminary, obtaining his theological degree. He served as the assistant minister at the First Church Congregational in Nashua, New Hampshire. He later moved with his family to Orleans, Massachusetts, taking a position as minister at the Federated Church of Orleans. He left the ministry in 1969 and returned to sales, serving as a manager of the Nashua Corporation in the Latin American division. His fluency in Spanish, his native tongue, served him well in this capacity. He obtained a masters degree from Texas A&I in the field of bilingual education, specializing in multicultural communication, further enhancing his skills.
He lived with his second wife, Nancy Phillips, for a number of years in Mexico City before “retiring” to Brewster, Massachusetts, where together they started an import and retail sales business called “La Bodega”, focusing on Latin American imports. In his later years he was a member and served as one of the chaplains at First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist church, where he enjoyed his many friends and social groups. Locally, he kept Grumpy’s Restaurant in business, swam with the tides of Paine’s Creek, and tinkered with his 1930’s Model “A”. During these “retirement” years, he became directly involved in the injustices of our government in Central America, traveling widely with Witness for Peace.
His Spanish fluency allowed him the direct contact and appreciation of the subtleties of each conflict he encountered. He was active for many years in Veterans for Peace, befriending activist Brian Wilson and serving as a translator for Sandinista Daniel Ortega in efforts to bring peace to the conflict in the 1980’s. He even donated his beloved trombone to the Sandinista Army Band. He served as translator for U.S. Representative George Miller and Jim Sensenbrenner on a fact-finding mission in Guatemala. He was also involved in the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980’s, helping to protect El Salvadorian political refugees. He was committed to peace and justice. Despite his effective military service and career, he regretted the violence with which he had been involved, and at the end of his life said that he has asked for forgiveness each day.
He is survived by his first wife, Ann Phillips, and their children, William Phillips, Stephen Phillips, Mark Phillips and Susan Ebbs. He is also survived by his second wife, Nancy Phillips, and his stepchildren, Sandra Fields, Judith Wilkinson, Pamela Nickerson, Elisabeth Murphy, and Amy Neveu. He leaves behind ten grandchildren.
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