Submitted by Jimmy Phillips
If you would like more information on this Phillips family contact Jimmy

Robert Franklin Phillips

by Jimmy Phillips

My Papaw, as we all fondly called him would always tell me wonderful stories of our family as I was growing up. His favorite chair was beside his old desk in the living room with his radio sitting on top. As soon as I would hit the door I would run and jump into his lap. I remember sitting on his knee as a young boy, it was my favorite place to be. I still have that old desk and my daughter has his chair. He would tell me stories of his memories of growing up on the farm on Bizzel Bluff in Livingston County, Kentucky where he was born on 05 Nov 1909. His Daddy and Mama were Robert Lee Phillips and Lillian Emma Farris. I never grew tired of hearing him tell those stories. He had a way of telling a story and making it come alive, almost as if you there. From my youngest memories as a little boy until Papaw passed away there was no one else I would rather be with. We did everything together, and he taught me so many important things as I grew up. He was my "Best Friend!"

He would always help his neighbors with anything they needed. We use to help Mr.& Mrs. Scott with their yard work when Mr. Scott was sick, Mrs. Goodman & Mrs. Darnell were widow ladies and he always looked out for them, whether it was collecting eggs out of the hen house or repairing things around their house or bringing them groceries. Back then all your neighbors were your friends and they treated each other like family! Sometimes we would walk down to the old country store to get a bottle of pop and talk to Mr. & Mrs Hyde, or down to the "Old Bait Shop" and just sit around and talk to his many friends that would hang out there playing checkers and cards. It was a great time in my life. Even as a teenager I would spend my weekends with Papaw. It is hard to put into words how special he was to me and the love and admiration I had for this simple man. His influence on me has never faded. It did not matter if we were listening to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio or working in the yard or his shop, whatever he was doing I wanted to be there with him. As he taught different things he never once raised his voice or a hand to me, his gentle loving nature would not allow that.

One of his fondest memories was helping his father plant walnut trees along the fence row of their farm on Bizzell Bluff, about 1919. Most of them are still standing. He always remembered the good times with his father teaching him how to farm ( something Papaw passed on to me) or how to build things and how to hunt, his dad was an expert shot by the way. Papaw said he could stick matches in the top of a fence post and his father could light them with a 22 rifle from 50 yards away! And his mother taught him how to cook and sew when he was little. He loved them both dearly. Although the old home place was lost to a fire a new brick home was built on the site.

He spoke of a old watering hole I believe it was a gravel pit that all the children would go skinny dipping in. A real short haircut was always in order for the summer so that his hair would not be wet afterwards, as his mother thought it was too dangerous to go swimming there. As he grew into a teenager the fad was to buy pure lemon extract from the general store. Because it had a small amount of alcohol in it they really thought they were getting away with something, he said laughingly.

Papaw said his brother Vernon was always a hearty eater. Which is easy to understand since their mother was a blue ribbon winner every year at the fair. He said Vernon could easily eat a dozen or more biscuits for breakfast plus all the trimmings. He also said Vernon was very strong. When he worked at the state highway garage they had no jack to lift the trucks, but they did have jack stands. So Vernon would grab the bumper and lift the truck up so the other two guys could slide the jack stands underneath. He always told me I reminded him of Uncle Vernon.

Aunt Ethel I think was like a second mother to Papaw because when he spoke of her there was such love in the tone of his voice. She held a very special place in his heart. He always took me to her birthday/family reunion to visit with family. I remember fasting the day before we went so I could eat more because the food was so good. It was always the highlight of the year to go to those reunions and see all of our family together. And on the way back home we would stop at the Family Cemetery and the Dyer Hill Cemetery to pay our respects.

Papaw always spoke fondly of his first son Billy. He said Billy was one of the most intelligent people he ever knew. He always spoke highly of everyone in his family. I never heard him say a bad thing about any of us. The only time I remember him being depressed was when he lost his lifelong sweetheart Laverne ( Mamaw), but his strong faith in God and love from the rest of us got him through it.

His job driving the Greyhound Bus was nothing short of exciting as boy listening to him tell about the baseball players and servicemen that used to ride. He finished his Career with over 20 years of safe driving (not so much as a scratch). After his first heart attack he started a upholstery and refinishing business. He told me his promise to our Heavenly Father was this if you let me live long enough to finish raising my family I will do everything I can to Honor your name. So every penny of profit from that business went to his church. And he always sent money to Saint Jude Hospital because they took such good care of Billy. Another promise he kept until the end. Yes he was a very loyal and honorable Christian man. He was also a very generous and loving soul, he would do anything he could to help someone in need and never think twice about it.

If you haven't noticed yet I loved him dearly, he was like a father to me. He was my friend, my role model, my mentor in life. Everything he taught me I soaked up like a dry sponge in a bucket of water. I always spent my extra time with him. One of our favorite things we did together was listen to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio or television or on Friday and Saturday nights I'd go get us some donuts at Red's or Munal's and we would watch reruns of Gunsmoke and Sanford and Son he would really laugh hard at Fred.

Just writing this is very emotional, I have goose bumps, a lump in the throat, a warm heart, a tear drop in the eye, and a smile on my face. Yes he was a Great Man, a Christian Man, a Family Man who taught me how important your family is. He said there is nothing more important than your family. He loved all of his family and always looked forward to joining them in Heaven. And so do I.   I'll be seeing you Papaw. Love Always Jimmy