Nicolas Rufus Guthrie Phillips
Nicolas Rufus Guthrie Phillips, beloved husband of Bonnie Payer Phillips, died at his home in Old Mystic on April 27, 2014 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. He was born in Nashville, Tennessee on September 3, 1934, the son of the late Rufus S. and Elizabeth G. Phillips.
Nick and Bonnie met in 1959 and were married in 1960. They enjoyed 54 years of marriage and raised four children. In addition to Bonnie, Nick is survived by his daughter Johanna Phillips Clark and husband Warren of Westford, Massachusetts and Mystic; his daughter-in-law Katherine Godine Phillips of Baltimore, Maryland; his son Stephen MacLeod Phillips and wife Jean of Damariscotta, Maine; and his son Paul Timothy Phillips and wife Tracy of Ledyard. His son David Guthrie Phillips predeceased him in 2006. “Papa Nick” leaves six cherished grandchildren: Katherine, Emily, Calum, Walker, John, and Elizabeth. He also leaves his sister Patricia Phillips Bernhard of Westport and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
Nick was raised in Eastchester, New York. He was active with the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. At Eastchester High School, he was a varsity athlete in football, baseball, and track and also played trombone in the New York State High School Band.
He graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York in 1956. He studied marine engineering and sailed to ports in the Mediterranean, around the coasts of Africa, and through the Panama Canal. He was a Battalion Commander and upon graduation earned a U.S. Coast Guard License and a Commission in the U.S. Navy. He served aboard Destroyer USS Manley as the Damage Control Officer and Chief Engineer and was awarded a personal citation from the North Atlantic Fleet Commander for actions taken during a disaster when the ship was hit by a rogue wave. Later, he served as Executive Officer aboard Minesweeper USS Aggressive, earning a commendation for Operational Excellence and qualifying for Command-at-Sea.
Nick resigned his commission from the Navy in 1961 with the rank of Lieutenant. He settled in Mystic and enjoyed sailing with his family on Fisher’s Island Sound. He worked at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton as a shipwright superintendent, wet-dock manager, and manufacturing manager. Nick also earned his MBA from the University of Connecticut.
After retirement from Electric Boat, Nick continued his career in Manufacturing Engineering. He was President of Marathon LeTourneau Shipyard, Brownsville, Texas, supervising construction of offshore oilrigs. He returned to the northeast, working as General Manager for Otis Elevator in Yonkers, New York and then as Plant Manager for Cone Blanchard Machine Company in Windsor, Vermont. Nick’s career took him to Colorado as General Manager of Gardner Denver Mining Division. Then, he became a manufacturing consultant for BDM, a defense contractor in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During this time, he earned his PhD from Kennedy-Western University. He moved to El Paso, Texas and worked in Juarez, Mexico as Director of Engineering for ELAMEX. He taught business and engineering at the University of Texas, El Paso. Later, he developed an industrial training program and facility for New Mexico State University in Carlsbad, New Mexico. During his 22 years in the southwest, Nick enjoyed skiing in the Rocky Mountains and vacationing in Mexico.
Nick retired in 2002, and he and Bonnie relocated to Old Mystic. He rekindled his love of life at sea, serving as an engineer with Cross Sound Ferry Services aboard the Mary Ellen. He volunteered in the shipyard at the Mystic Seaport and was a regular member of the Gung Ho Squad. He was a former member of Off Soundings and the Ram Island and Mason’s Island Yacht Clubs. For several years, he was an Admissions Field Representative for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Nick was a dedicated member of the Old Mystic Community Association, where he was known for playing “Taps” on his bugle at the annual Old Mystic Memorial Day Ceremony.
The family will receive friends at Bonnie and Nick’s home 1444 Pequot Trail, Old Mystic, Stonington on Friday, May 2 from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Burial will be private. A Mass celebrating Nick’s life will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday, June 21 at St. Patrick’s Church, Mystic. A graveside ceremony with military honors will be held at Elm Grove Cemetery, and a reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation (http://www.usmmaaf.com), the Mystic Seaport (http://www.mysticseaport.org), or the Center for Hospice Care of Southeastern Connecticut (http://www.hospicesect.org/).
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