Richard Russell Phillips Jr. died peacefully Saturday, January 7th, in Philadelphia, six days shy of his 91st birthday. Russell was with family, friends and longtime companion Jean Haskell. Until the last he was smiling with curiosity and had that glint in his eye.
Born in Memphis in 1932, the son of Elizabeth (Calhoun) and Richard Russell Phillips (Sr.), Russell attended Blytheville schools and the University of Arkansas where he met his former wife Anne Allbright, who died in 2015. The two had four children, Russell, Patrick, Sarah (Sally) and John. In his second marriage, Russell also had a son, Nico. All are living. He is also survived by six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
After school, Russell became a Captain in the Marines, stationed in California, where Russell (III) was born, and in Japan. Russell and young family returned to Blytheville where he worked alongside his father at the family Ford dealership. Russell and family moved from Blytheville to Connecticut in 1968.
Russell was a kind man who held a lifelong belief in advancing equality for all people. He worked in east Little Rock, in Tupelo, MS and in New York City where he advocated for equitable treatment and pay for working people. In West Philadelphia, where he lived from 2005, he made his home and contributed to the community and to racial equality and justice.
It was said, “Russell could see something new every day on his short drive from Indiana Street to the Ford dealership.” And, he always checked in on old friends and far flung relatives, just to keep in touch.