Phillips III, James Carlisle

Phillips III, James Carlisle

April 16, 1951 – January 13, 2017
Age 65 of St. Louis Park. Dedicated father of three, died peacefully on Friday morning in hospice care at Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul. He was 65 years old. Born in Atlanta on April 16, 1951, Jim was raised in Taiwan by his parents, who were Methodist missionaries. After attending undergraduate school at Hamline University, he met his wife, Cathy Murphy, in an electronic music class while pursuing a master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He subsequently obtained a PhD in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota. Following a brief stint as a piano tuner, and his time leading the writing lab at what is now Century College, Jim worked for 27 years in the library at the Star Tribune. He watched his children during the day and worked from the early afternoon until late, fastidiously classifying photographs. Ever a city person, he moved with his family in the mid-1980s, somewhat reluctantly, from South Minneapolis to St. Louis Park. Jim spent his free time in numerous choirs and singing groups. Although not of Swedish descent, he played the fiddle for years in the American Swedish Institute’s Spelmanslag, taking on the slightly-controversial task of transcribing traditional songs that may have never been written down before. In addition to being a musician, Jim was also an art enthusiast, loyally supporting both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He kept in touch with his friends and family via an annual letter, including original collage art, called the Phillips Sun Moon Journal. A caring and kind person who involved himself in the lives of many, Jim made time for people. He donated to social justice groups and bought several instruments for people who expressed an interest in learning to play. Crafting custom-made cards for loved ones was one of many ways Jim showed his affection. After he retired from the Star Tribune, he continued to work part-time as a paraprofessional in the St. Louis Park School District, where he formerly volunteered teaching students about art, music, and grammar. He especially loved working with the children at Park Spanish Immersion. Jim lived in the same house with his wife in St. Louis Park for more than 30 years, in a close and supportive neighborhood. In August, an MRI detected a large aneurysm near Jim’s brain stem. He underwent a risky surgery for the aneurysm in September, and during the surgery he had a stroke. Jim is survived by his mother Ruth; his wife Cathy; his children Tim, Laura, and Meridel; his grandchild Josie; and his sisters Carol (Don), Ann (Bob), and Claire. He will also be remembered by other relatives, including several nieces and nephews and his extended family in Mexico. A celebration of his life will take place on Saturday, January 21 at 4:00 p.m., at St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road in Wayzata. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Our Lady of Peace or Amnesty International. (Published in the Star Tribune on Jan. 21, 2016)