Thomas James Phillips, 76, of Willmar, died Tuesday, January 5th at Carris Health Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. There will be a private family service held with a public celebration when it is safe for everyone to gather. Arrangements are with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar. www.hafh.org. Memorials are preferred in lieu of flowers and they may be directed to: Struthers Parkinson's Center of Minnesota.
Tom was born on August 28, 1944, in Bremerton, WA, the son of Paul and Lois (Mackey) Phillips. At two years old, the family moved to Montevideo, MN, where he graduated from Montevideo High School in 1962. He then enlisted in the United States Navy and served honorably until his discharge, returning to Montevideo. On December 26, 1965, he was united in marriage to the love of his life Rita Seemann at Montevideo Methodist Church. Tom and Rita lived in Bremerton WA for a short time. Upon returning to Minnesota, they moved to Willmar. In 1967, he began working at Nelson International for 21 years. In 1988 “Shop Tom” started a 10-year stint with Duininck Inc. He retired after working the next six years for Dykema Trucking.
Tom was a member of First Presbyterian Church and other local organizations including: Elks, Owls, and notably, American Legion Post #167, Willmar, and American Legion Post #537, New London. He was Past Commander of Post #167 where he was an avid supporter and promoter of Boys State and Legion Baseball. He also was one of the founding members of the Willmar Hockey Association Tournament Committee. He coached men’s softball for many years which included a Class C State Championship title in 1987 with Midwest Transport. Tom’s favorite times were spent with his family. He also enjoyed snowmobiling, traveling with Rita and her sisters and husbands, attending Nascar races at various tracks across the country, and watching Minnesota professional and college sports (especially the Twins). When he wasn’t supporting his community or socializing at one of the “clubs” he belonged to, Tom enjoyed golfing at Valley Golf with TJ and friends.
Surviving are his wife, Rita, of 55 years; children: Shawn (and Nick) Nelsen of Belgrade MT; Kelly (and Shawn) Klinghagen of Willmar and Thomas James Phillips II (TJ) (and Ann) Phillips of Spicer; “Papa Tom” has eight grandchildren: Amanda, Chelsey, Samantha, Payden (and Megan), Ali, Lauren (and Mitchell), Jordan and Olivia; four great-grandchildren: Nolan, Jace, Lana, and Lily. Also surviving are his mother, Lois, of Montevideo; siblings: Peg (and Lindsey) Little of Grand Marais, Jodi Phillips of Montevideo, Shelly (and Tim) Elkington of Montevideo, and his sisters-in-law: Llea Anderson of Morris, Karen Holmquist of New London, and Leona Gilles of Duluth; brother-in-law Jim Engelke of Spicer, and his buddy, Charlie, their (his really) labradoodle, along with many other loving family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his great-grandson, Mitchell; father, Paul and siblings: Patricia, Peter and Mary Ellen. He was also preceded in death by his brothers-in-law, Wayne Anderson and Harland Holmquist; sister-in-law, Joyce Engleke, as well as Rita’s parents, Leadro and Eva Seemann, with whom he had a very special relationship.
To send flowers to Thomas' family, please visit our floral store.