Francis Xavier Phillips, PhD, 81, of Lake Charles passed away Thursday, November 10, 2022, in the comfort of his home.
Dr. Phillips was born in Philadelphia, PA to Elizabeth Josephine Riely. A graduate of Camden Catholic High School, he attended Villa Nova University (with the idea of joining the clergy) and then went on to study and graduate from Rutgers University – Camden, where he obtained Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Biology. Frank followed these with a PhD in Invertebrate Zoology/Toxicology, specializing in Nuclear Power and its effects on the Zoology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. It was during this time that Frank joyfully celebrated the arrival of his first-born daughter, Kimberly.
Following his post-doctoral education, Frank relocated to Jacksonville, Florida and continued his passion for all things biological and scientific by accepting a position as Professor of Biology at Jacksonville University. During his 4-year tenure at JU, Frank won the hearts and minds of many students. He left a lasting impression on many who still remain in touch to the present.
After leaving JU, Frank became the Lead Biologist for the State of Florida from 1974 – 1976. On one fateful occasion, Frank’s expertise in environmental litigation (State of Florida vs the DuPont Company) resulted in a win for the state. Afterwards while celebrating in a bar with colleagues, the DuPont defense team approached him and offered him a position with the company.
Accepting the position with DuPont, Frank relocated to Wilmington, DE to take a position as a Senior Research Biologist for Haskell Labs (a division of Dupont, Inc.) where he stayed for approximately 10 years. During this time, Frank happily welcomed the arrival of his second daughter, Ashlin.
In 1989, Frank made Lake Charles his home with a transfer to Conoco (previously owned by DuPont) as the Director of their Environmental Department, a position he held until retiring in 2009.
Never one to sit idle long, Frank began teaching classes part time at McNeese State University. His part time status soon became full time. He served as a Professor of Biology, Toxicology and Risk Assessment at McNeese State University from 2009-2015, sending many well-prepared students into the local industrial arena.
Frank was a man of quick and dry wit. He was a man of superior knowledge who loved being around quick, sharp young minds. He enjoyed reading, cycling and his love of animals (particularly dogs) was unrivaled. Many Lake Charles residents knew him as the man who was always seen walking the neighborhoods with his black Labrador. His down time was spent listening to classical and rock music while woodworking and making furniture. He also enjoyed traveling with his family to the British Isles and the South Pacific.
He leaves to honor his memory, his wife of 43 years, Catherine “Cathie” Phillips of Lake Charles; two daughters, Kimberly Eileen Phillips and husband Jerry Seelig of Maryville, TN, and Ashlin Blouin Phillips of Lake Charles and one sister, Mary Elizabeth Phillips Bryson and husband Dave of Stratford, NJ.
Frank is preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth Josephine Riely, and stepfather Raymond Phillips; his Black Lab, Tracker and two cats, Hooks, and Nutley.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the entire team at Brighton Bridge Hospice for their loving and compassionate care, and assisting us through this difficult time. The family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider donating to Brighton Bridge Hospice, 213 B North 1st Street, Oberlin, LA 70655, or to an animal shelter of choice in Frank’s name.
Funeral Services will be Friday, November 18, 2022 in the Chapel of Johnson Funeral Home at 4321 Lake Street, Lake Charles, LA 70605. Visitation Friday will be from 11:00 am until the time of Memorial Services at 1:00 PM.