Family, friends and former colleagues said a tearful goodbye to former Washington County Sheriff Fred Phillips earlier this week. Phillips, 72, who died at his home last week of a heart attack, was laid to rest Monday at the National Cemetery, Mountain Home.
Phillips leaves a legacy of public service and dedication that spans more than 40 years. He began his distinguished career in law enforcement as a patrolman, eventually rising through the ranks to become chief of the Johnson City Police Department.
“Fred was a policeman’s policeman,” former Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry said last week.
It was his commitment to professionalism that led to Phillips’ being appointed deputy state commissioner of safety over the Law Enforcement Training Center in Donnelson. In 2002, then-Gov. Phil Bredesen named Phillips to be his commissioner of safety — a job that made Phillips the head of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
In between those two jobs in Nashville, Phillips found time to be elected sheriff of Washington County. Despite being an unabashed Democrat, he defeated a veteran Republican incumbent for sheriff. He was the first to acknowledge he owed his political success to being able to work with Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.
Phillips’ service to this community and the pride he took in his work will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his loved ones and friends.