Dr. Harold O. “Phil” Phillips, 97

Dr. Harold O. “Phil” Phillips joined his wife of 59 years, Rebecca “Becky” Phillips, in heaven on February 7, 2024. He was born March 19, 1926, in Pennsylvania to Peter Leasure Phillips and Lettie King Phillips. He was a veteran of World War II and served in the Army Air Corps in which he enlisted as a senior in high school. He is a graduate of Waynesburg High School and received his BS degree in Chemistry from Waynesburg University and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from West Virginia University. In college, he was a member of Phi Lambda Upsilon, Sigma Xi, and other honor societies in math and physics. He was also a member of the American Chemical Society for over 70 years.

Dr. Phillips joined the Chemistry Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 1954. At ORNL he conducted basic research in the fields of ion exchange, adsorption, desalination, hyperfiltration, and general solution chemistry. His research accomplishments resulted in numerous patents and published papers. While in Oak Ridge he married a young lady from Madisonville, Tennessee, Rebecca Graves, in 1962 They were married at the First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge and had two lovely daughters, Teresa and Heather. They were also blessed with two lovely granddaughters, Melissa and Abigail. Dr. Phillips left Oak Ridge in 1973 to join a large Architectural and Engineering firm in New York City. While there, he was involved with both nuclear power plant projects and fusion energy research and design work. During the late nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties, he was the lead engineer for the Tritium Storage and Delivery System for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) Fusion Research Project at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). While working on the TFTR Project, he prepared many reports and co-authored several papers related to his fusion energy work. When working on this project and later projects, he lived in the Princeton, New Jersey area. He enjoyed working at PPPL and living near Princeton University. When the major part of the TFTR Project was completed, he returned to his home office on the 89th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

His office overlooked the Statue of Liberty. On the 4th of July, the family would gather in the World Trade Center office to look down on the fireworks in the harbor below. While in New York, he designed and specified many safety-related systems for nuclear power plants in the United States. Some of the plants he worked on were operated by Carolina Power & Light, Florida Power, Washington Public Power Supply System, and Tennessee Valley Authority. Also, he participated in the design of a system for treating low-level waste for the West Valley Project in New York State. After retiring, he and Becky moved back to Oak Ridge to be near their family. Harold was a long-time member of the First United Methodist Church. He loved reading, listening to good music, hiking, and traveling to different countries. Also, he enjoyed the family get-to-gathers.

In addition to his parents, Dr. Phillips was preceded in death by his wife, Becky Phillips, his sister, Elizabeth Ruth Wade, and his brother, Paul K. Phillips. Survivors include his two daughters, Teresa Icenhour and Heather Phillips; son-in-law, Alan Icenhour; two granddaughters, Melissa Icenhour Watkins and Abigail Icenhour Agentis; and several nieces and nephews.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Online donations can be made in Dr. Phillips’ memory at https://www.waynesburg.edu/alumni-and-giving/give-wu. Also, the family deeply appreciates the care, compassion, and love of the staff at Commonwealth Senior Living at Oak Ridge, as well as the staff at UT Hospice.

The family will receive friends from 2:30 to 3:30 pm on Sunday, March 3, 2024, at First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, 1350 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, TN 37830. A funeral service will follow at 3:30 pm with Rev. Jenny Caughman officiating. Family and friends will meet at 11:00 am Monday, March 4, 2024, at Oak Ridge Memorial Park for interment. Online condolences may be left at https://www.weatherfordmortuary.com/.

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