“Once he got on the board, he became energetic in working to become a very good alderman and addressing the issues, whatever they may be,” Bennett said.
Phillips, who was serving his first term as an alderman for the town of Unicoi, died Saturday in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital after battling illness.
Phillips, 63, was born in Johnson City. He was a former member of the U.S. Army Reserve, a farmer and owner of businesses both local and in other states. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and Jericho Shrine Temple.
“Mike was fun to work with,” town of Unicoi Alderman Mark Ramsey said. “He was always eager to learn.”
Both Bennett and Ramsey said Phillips had a genuine interest in the town of Unicoi and worked to better the town. Aside from his service on the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Phillips also served on the town’s historical society.
A second-generation farmer, Phillips also spent a great deal of time working in the grape vineyard and apple orchard he started several years back. His affinity for agriculture would lead him to spearhead the effort to bring a Farmers Market to the town of Unicoi.
He introduced the idea of the market to town officials and was chairman of the town’s Farmers Market committee. Bennett said Phillips spent “tremendous hours” working on the Farmers Market project at its inception.
“That was basically his baby,” Bennett said.
Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said Phillips was also a supporter of the town’s planned community kitchen project.
“Mike was a good fellow and an important part of the board, and he made a big contribution,” Lynch said. “He is going to be sorely missed.”
Phillips was elected to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 2010. His term was set to expire this year. Lynch said town officials have not yet given much thought to how Phillips’ seat on the board will be filled, but he assumes an interim alderman may be appointed to serve out the remainder of Phillips’ term. He said town officials plan to soon contact the Municipal Technical Advisory Service regarding the matter.
Phillips is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Tipton Phillips, and their two sons, as well as other members of his family. The family will receive friends today from 5-7 p.m. at the Unicoi Funeral Home Chapel. The committal service will be held at noon Thursday at the Roselawn Memorial Park.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, 706 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002.