Henry Alexander ‘Hank’ Phillips, 84, founded Phillips Vancil and Associates

Henry Alexander ‘Hank’ Phillips

WILMINGTON — Henry Alexander “Hank” Phillips, 84, died peacefully at home from complications of prostate cancer Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Hank was born July 14, 1936, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Dr. Henry Phillips Jr. and Katharine Harris Phillips and was a native of Exeter, New Hampshire. He was known as “Sandy” while growing up in Exeter, in college and during his military service.

Hank graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1955 with honors. He was a varsity athlete and class correspondent for 16 years. He was a director of the General Alumni/ae Association and a member of the school’s Heritage Circle.

Hank earned a B.A. Degree in Liberal Arts, majoring in French literature, from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1959. He was a member of Haverford’s Beta Rho Sigma Society and Jacob P. Jones Society. He captained varsity cross-country teams at Exeter and Haverford. He attended Camp Mowglis on Newfound Lake in Hebron, New Hampshire, the oldest private summer camp for boys in America (1903), as a camper, then as a camp counselor and tennis instructor. He was a member of the camp’s Bagheera Society.

Hank was loyal and patriotic, a joiner and a leader. He was attracted to the U.S. Marine Corps while a senior at Exeter when the Corps’ officer training program was described to him by USMC Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., who was in Exeter for a speaking engagement.

Hank volunteered for the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) officer training program in the fall of his freshman year at Haverford College, a Quaker institution. During college, he served at the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Training Center at Frankford Arsenal in Northeast Philadelphia, attaining the rank of acting sergeant. Hank received basic infantry training at Quantico, Virginia, during the summers of 1956 and 1958 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Philadelphia following his graduation from Haverford on June 5, 1959.

Following graduation from The Basic School (TBS) at Quantico, Hank served three years on active duty as a Marine infantry officer (0302) at Camp Pendleton, California, and at Camp Schwab, Okinawa. On Okinawa, he served with transplacement Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/3, reinforced, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), as a company executive officer and acting company commander. Hank held the rank of first lieutenant at the time he was honorably discharged. Two of Hank’s children, Brian and Johanna, also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as enlisted Marines.

Hank’s battalion commander on Okinawa in 1961 to 1962 was Col. Martin J. “Stormy” Sexton. Sexton served in combat in three wars and was designated by Leatherneck Magazine a “Giant of the Corps.” Hank’s great-great-uncle was Colonel Commandant John Harris (1793 to 1864), the sixth commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Hank was associated with the Corps for more than 70 years. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

On Oct. 25, 1962, Hank joined Procter & Gamble as a retail sales representative in the Boston Case Soap District. He held positions of increasing responsibility in sales management in New York, New Jersey; Paris, France; and Osaka, Japan. He was fluent in French. In 1980, he was appointed manager of U.S. Sales Recruiting for P&G and was based at the company’s world headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. He retired in 1994 with 32 years of service. Following his retirement from P&G, Hank founded a human resources consulting firm, Phillips Vancil and Associates, that served major business clients in the U.S. and France until 2000.

Hank married the love of his life, Deborah Miller Paddock of Cincinnati, Ohio. He and Debbie moved from Indian Hill (Cincinnati), Ohio, to Wilmington, NC in July, 1997. Hank soon became involved in the Wilmington community and at the Country Club of Landfall. He was a founder and first Commandant of Cape Fear Detachment 1070, Marine Corps League in Wilmington. He served two additional terms as commandant, and in 2010 he was named “Marine of the Year” by the Commandant of the Department of North Carolina Marine Corps League.

Hank was a life member of both the Marine Corps League and the Marine Corps Association and Foundation. He was a contributor for many years to the Wilmington Star News, Leatherneck Magazine, and Semper Fi Magazine on military subjects including Colonial Marines, Marines in the Civil War, World War I Marines in France, and profiles of Wilmington Marines. He was associated with the Marine Corps University Foundation in Quantico, Virginia, and was a member of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor Society. He was also associated with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in Triangle, Virginia, and was a member of the 1775 Society. Hank was instrumental in the establishment and dedication of a study alcove at the Alfred M. Gray Marine Corps Research Center and Library at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, dedicated to the memory of Col. Martin J. “Stormy” Sexton U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.).

Hank was a life member of the General Society of Colonial Wars, a national hereditary organization, by right of lineal descent from Thomas Buckland, who served in the Connecticut militia during the Pequot War between 1636 and 1638. He became a hereditary member of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Hampshire in 1960, where his father was governor in 1949. Warrior Phillips became a member of the Ohio society in 1980, and when he relocated to Wilmington in 1997, he transferred his membership to the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of North Carolina, where he served as secretary, governor and deputy governor general. Warrior Phillips was responsible for three historic wayside markers dedicated at Bath and at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson, North Carolina Historic Site in Winnabow. He was a contributor for many years to local, state and national publications on the subject of colonial people, places, events and was a member of the Society of Colonial War’s Samuel Victor Constant Society. Fortiter pro Patria.

Always engaged in civic activities in the communities in which he lived, Hank was a member of the Wilmington Civitan Club for over 20 years and served as club president in 2004. That year, the club was selected an “Honor Club” by Civitan International.

He was also a member of the University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawk Club and a season-ticket holder.

Hank was an active member of the Country Club of Landfall. He took up golf when he was 62 and founded a “Tuesday Golf Group.” He and Debbie organized and hosted an annual golf banquet for 10 years. Hank also served as chairman of the Landfall Community Independence Day celebration. The annual Landfall fireworks show was initiated by Hank and Debbie in 2003 and is an annual tradition on the 3rd of July.

Hank was a member of the Landfall Council of Associations communications committee and was chairman and editor of the Landfall Voice newsletter. He was also a member of the Frank H. Kenan Chapel board of directors, where he served on the music and communications committees.

Hank traveled to France and Switzerland on many occasions beginning in 1957 to visit his cousins. His maternal grandmother, Agnes Cointat, was French. His French family tree identified 229 ancestors dating to 1545 in the village of Turny near St. Florentin and Auxerre, in the Burgundy region of France.

He enjoyed visits with his three children and eight grandchildren at home in Wilmington; San Diego, California; Vancouver, Washington; and Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom, and with his sister and her family in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Maine.

A good cook, Hank and Debbie frequently entertained guests at the French Country home they designed in Landfall in 2005 after a family chateau and farm in Turny, France. They hosted an annual Landfall fireworks party on July 3rd for 15 years, and celebrated Hank’s birthday on July 14th, Bastille Day, the French National Holiday.

The Phillips’ garden in Landfall, meticulously designed and continuously maintained with tender loving care by Debbie, was on the 2012 Azalea Festival Cape Fear Garden Club tour. In October 2013, the garden was featured in an episode of the PBS TV garden series GardenSMART.

In 2019, Hank and Debbie moved into a new home in the Autumn Hall community of Wilmington.

Hank had an extensive collection of contemporary Japanese pottery and original artwork by American, Canadian, French and Japanese artists. His pottery was displayed at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, St. John’s Museum of Art and the Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington.

A cradle Episcopalian, Hank served on the vestry and was senior warden for two terms at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park (Cincinnati) in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. He was a member of historic St. James Parish (1729) in downtown Wilmington, where he served as an usher, lector and chalicist. He was a licensed lay Eucharistic minister (LEM) and a member of St. James’ William and Alexander Society. Hank also volunteered at the Good Shepherd Center and for Meals on Wheels.

Hank liked lists; reading the news at zero dark thirty on his portable information device (Wilmington Star News); grocery shopping and cooking; sports on T.V.; driving; “Mad Men”; Rod Stewart; humor and hope.

Hank leaves his loving wife and partner of 31 years, Deborah Paddock Phillips; sister, Eleonore Dow Sanderson (David) of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kennebunkport, Maine; three children, Henry Alexander Phillips Jr. (Jill) of Vancouver, Washington, Dr. Brian John Phillips (Dr. Carolina Garriga) of Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom, and Johanna Phillips Lum (Dr. Stephen) of San Diego, California; eight grandchildren, Willow Adeline Phillips, Henry Alexander Phillips III, Julia Eleonore Phillips and Phinneas Elliott Phillips, Aaden Giren Lum and Chloe Gi-Ling Lum, Mia Victoria Phillips and Lucas John Phillips; niece, Alexandra Dow Hutchins (Peter) of Kennebunk, Maine; nephew, George Flagg Dow of Kennebunkport, Maine; sister-in-law, Pamela Larson; two brothers-in-law, Col. Jeffrey Paddock and the Rev. John Paddock; and loving cats, Smokey (RIP), Max (RIP) and Max 2 of the home.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to the St. James Parish Foundation, 25 S. Third St., Wilmington, NC 28401; or charity or non-profit of one’s choice.

Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.

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