William (Bill) Phillips: As member of Edmonds Parks Board, he helped transform the waterfront

Phillips in 2015 led a tour of the Edmonds waterfront parks, which he played a key role in creating. (File photo by Larry Vogel)
Former Edmonds and Woodway high school educator and Edmonds Parks Board member William (Bill) V. Phillips died July 15 at the age of 99.

An Edmonds resident for the past 70 years, in February he celebrated his 99th birthday at his apartment in Edmonds Landing, complete with balloons, singing and hearty congratulations,

According to his published obituary, Phillips was born at home in Seattle on Feb. 10, 1922 to Thomas and Athena Phillips, who both emigrated from Greece. Raised in the Seattle Greenlake area along with his two siblings Tom and Audrey, he was baptized at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and was a proud member of the Greek-American Community.

Phillps graduated from Lincoln High School in 1940, and went on to attend the University of Washington. With the advent of WWII, he enlisted into the Navy in 1942 and requested to be a Navy pilot. After his training at various Naval schools, he earned his Qualified Naval Aviator Certificate and was given his new assignment at Pensacola, Florida, where he trained numerous Navy pilots. He completed his military service in 1965 as a Lieutenant in the Navy Air Reserve, stationed at Sandpoint Naval Air Station in Seattle.

Upon returning to Seattle in 1947, he continued his education at the University of Washington where he received a bachelor of science degree, graduating in 1951.

Phillips was married in 1950, and in 1951 began his 32-year career in education at Edmonds High School, where he taught chemistry and physics. In the early 1960s, furthering his education attending the University of California at Berkeley for three summers joined by his wife Joanne and the children, those summers will be forever remembered for their great shared experiences. In 1966, he began a new position as vice principal of Edmonds High School and continued his career at Woodway High School as vice principal until retirement from the Edmonds School District in 1983.

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.

During his retirement years, he enjoyed gardening, tennis, golf and cheering on the UW Huskies, Seahawks and Mariners. Over the years, many longtime friendships were made attending a wide variety of gatherings and functions. He always looked forward to the weekly breakfast club gatherings enjoying the discussion of the day with the group of retirees of varied professions, as referred to by Bill as the “Algoma Boys”.
He was a devoted husband to his late wife, Joanne Phillips, and adored his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He always enjoyed spending time with family, countless cousins, and numerous friends.He is preceded in death by his wife, Joanne Phillips, and daughter, Karen Phillips, sons Tommy and William Phillips. Bill is survived by his children, Debbie (George) Cooper, Kiki (Rick) Bennett, and Randy (Cathy) Phillips, three grandsons Cory (Dani) Carbary, Demetre and Christian Phillips, four great grandchildren, Rainey, Cobe, Alex and Gavin Carbary, Goddaughter Christina (Tim) Jennings and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church — Camp Agape, 2100 Boyer Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98112, or to a charity of your choice.

 

 

 

  1. The Phillips family were our neighbors for over 20 years in the Olympic Avenue area, and we kids all played together all the time. Myself and my sisters, the Drake girls, are saddened by the news of his passing, and will always remember him and Joanne fondly.

  2. My sincere condolences to the family. Bill Phillips was truly a legend. I can remember his spark and enthusiasm as he led that waterfront tour. He inspired us all with what he created for the citizens of Edmonds and visitors. And it wasn’t just the waterfront but other parks in the City too since he was instrumental in getting land set aside for many neighborhood parks during his tenure on the Parks Board back then. This should provide inspiration for our citizens and decision makers as the PROS plan gets underway. Land acquisition for parks should be a top priority in all neighborhoods for the wellbeing of our citizens and wildlife. Thank you Bill. We are forever grateful.

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