Bill Phillips, the ‘father of Edmonds waterfront parks,’ turns a spry 99

Bill Phillips, the “father of the Edmonds waterfront,” celebrates his 99th birthday at Edmonds Landing. (Photo courtesy Victoria Cole)

Former high school science teacher and Edmonds Parks Board member Bill Phillips celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday at his apartment in Edmonds Landing, complete with balloons, singing and hearty congratulations to an Edmonds icon.

Phillips served on the Edmonds Parks Board during the 1960s and 1970s.  It was a time of transition on the Edmonds waterfront, as the various lumber and shingle mills closed their doors.

For a while, the future of the waterfront was in question, but Phillips had a vision: His dream was to transform the waterfront from a row of smokestacks and shuttered mills to a mix of parks, walkways and marinas for future generations. To make this happen, he worked closely with the mill interests, government officials and regular citizens to acquire the land and turn it into Edmonds waterfront we know today. Learn more about Phillips and the waterfront transformation in our 2015 article here.

Phillips in 2015 led a tour of the Edmonds waterfront parks, which he played a key role in creating. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

But Wednesday was all laughs and fun as Bill hosted his Edmonds Landing “family” in his apartment for a 99th birthday celebration, all done COVID style of course.

“Cake isn’t good for my diet these days,” he lamented, “but it just means we have to party a little harder to make up for it.”

Presents included a new TV and recliner, where he can chill out after a brisk walk on the waterfront.

What are his plans from here?

“Right now I’m taking it a year at a time,” he laughed. “But I’m feeling pretty darn good, and I’m looking forward to celebrating 100 next year.”

— By Larry Vogel

  1. I am so happy to see Mr. Phillips doing so well! He and his family lived in our neighborhood just off Olympic Avenue for many years, and his children and my sisters and I grew up playing together. He was also our school principal. Happy birthday and many, many more. From the Lee and Darleen Drake family – Claudia, Susan, Jeanette and Valeria.

  2. Dear My Edmonds News. Thank you so much for sharing my Father’s Birthday with Everyone in “Good Old Edmonds Washington” and telling the story of how my Dad and so many help to create the Beautiful Edmonds Waterfront. With much Love, Kiki and Rick B. NYC.

      1. 76 EHS here, to Ken Boyle I remember when you invited me to stay at the ski resort at stevens hope your doing well , Bill Lee

        1. Long time ago. Kiki and and I had a brief relationship @ EJHS. …I remember it well, I was timid and uncomfortable. I’m not not sure if at that time I was ‘cute’.. or not but, she opted for Rick. ..from what I’ve seen online- destruction…

    1. Hi Kiki and Rick! How wonderful to see your dad at 99! My dad made it to 96; What wonderful memories came to my mind upon seeing his picture!! The beach where we spent so many hours sunbathing! I remember all the evenings we spent running between your houses, the Phillips and the Bennetts, and of course the Hardans, Passey, Conleys, Jorgenson’s and Johnson/Ulbergs! We had the best neighborhood, didn’t we??? Playing kick-the-can, hide n go seek, pole vaulting etc!

    2. Your dad was my science teacher at Edmonds High School in 1958-59 and I baby sat you kids once in a while. He was also my daughter’s High School Principal in the early 80’s. Please wish him a very Happy Birthday. Kathryn Hendrickson Rehfeld.

      1. How about a name change for one of the beaches, or name a stretch of the walkway to honor Mr. Phillips?
        We wouldn’t live in Edmonds if it wasn’t for the waterfront.

        Thanks, Bill.

        1. Something for sure! We are so blessed that he worked to give all of us the gift of waterfront parks and access. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for your hard worked gift of Edmonds Waterfront. I am sure it was very hard work. Also it is really good to know who helped give this gift to Edmonds! All visitors enjoy the waterfront and Edmonds, thank you.

  4. I remember Mr. Phillips well, as our EHS Vice Principal in ’67. He was a great guy, easy to talk to and always available to the students. I especially remember him talking about his military service, something many of us would soon experience. Happy Birthday, Bill.

  5. As I recall my parents knew Bill from when they all lived near Greenlake in the late 1930’s. Glad he is doing well.

  6. Happy Birthday “Dear” Bill Phillips! I’ve been honored to know you from Edmonds High School years, Class of ‘67, to family get togethers in recent years. We can’t wait to celebrate 100 with you!

  7. Billie, Tuesday morning coffee group wishes you the best. When we are rid of COVID, we look forward to seeing you again as you are an integral part of the group! All the best, Bloch, Martin, Harper, Burrell, Walther, Sharp, Morton, Wolfe & Burbank.

  8. A very special birthday wish to this amazing man. Words can’t even begin to describe how absolutely wonderful he is. Not only was Bill my principal but he also owned 2 of the best stores in Edmonds called Basketta along with his wife Joanne. I enjoyed working for them for many years and Bill and Joanne always made me feel like part of their family. Thanks to Bill for helping to make Edmonds a better place and for all of his years of dedication.

  9. Hi Mr. Phillips, Happy Birthday to you. I was fortunate to work in the office with you when you were our Principal at Edmonds High School. Graduated in 1967! I also got to come visit you when you were still living at home when I was visiting my sister Georgia Cordova. I live in Las Vegas but think of you often. Georgia keeps me up to date on you. Take care of yourself.

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