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Vera Phillips

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30th, 2013

CARBONDALE — Vera Dorothea Britton Phillips, 97, died at 6:15 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at her home in Carbondale.

She was born on Jan. 4, 1916, just outside of Elgin, to Walter and Mary (Perdue) Britton.

She was an accomplished musician and violinist. She received her first violin when she was 4 years old from her godfather, Civil War Major George D. Sherman, and played daily for the next 85 years. She played in many symphony orchestras over the years, including University of Illinois, Evansville Philharmonic, University of Chicago, Dayton Philharmonic, and Northern Illinois University.

Vera graduated from Elgin High School and received her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of Illinois. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi and Sigma Alpha Iota sororities, and Gymkana. She received the first Illini “I” ever given to a woman for her participation in Gymkana.

After graduation, Vera taught school for three years in Harvey, Illinois, before being recruited by the Aircraft Radio War Training Program for Women to be trained as an electrical engineering assistant. On completion of the program at the University of Illinois, she took a job in the Aircraft Radio Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where she design radio equipment and field installation manuals for aircraft. This job ended at the end of the war, and Vera went back to her parents’ house in Elgin to decide what to do next.

While she was there, she received a letter from the brother of one of her dear friends, Kathryn Phillips Cotton, saying that her brother had just returned from the War, was going to Chicago, and wanted to see Vera. Vera married William Braxton Phillips, Jr. on March 14, 1946 in Elgin, and began her life as a wife and mother.

William and Vera lived in Ridgway and Shawneetown, before moving to Rochelle, where her husband served as a Circuit Judge until his death in 1973.

Vera taught piano and violin lessons to hundreds of youngsters over the years.

In 2005, Vera moved into Liberty Village Retirement Community in Carbondale, to be nearer to her family.

In addition to her husband, Vera was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, and her son-in-law, Richard Gildehaus.

Survivors include two children, William (Karen) Phillips, III of Gibson City, and Valerie Phillips Gildehaus of Murphysboro; five grandchildren, William Phillips IV of Indianapolis, Ind., Katie Lynn Phillips of Bloomington, Hilary Phillips of New York City, Grant (Wendolyn) Gildehaus of Champaign and Elizabeth (Jon) Gildehaus Casten of Galatia; two great-grandsons, Austin Braxton Phillips Steiner and Keagen Alan Phillips Steiner; and two great-granddaughters, Mathilda Alice Gildehaus and Katherine Adelle Gildehaus; nephews and nieces, other relatives, and friends.

Visitation for Vera Phillips was held from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 28 at Crain Pleasant Grove-Murdale Funeral home with a Memorial Service following at noon at Crain Pleasant Grove-Murdale funeral Home with Rev. Jim Grant officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Chapter with envelopes available at the funeral home.

To leave online condolences please visit www.crainsonline.com.

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