Ricky Joseph Phillips, age 66 years formerly of Niles, Michigan died peacefully at 11:35 a.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at his home in Cassopolis, Michigan with this family there following an extended illness.
He was born on October 26, 1952 in Niles to John L. and Evelyn Jane (Woltman) Phillips, and attended Niles Community Schools. He entered the United States Army, and served most of his tour of duty at the Headquarters of the United States European Command in Germany. He was Honorably Discharged as a Veteran of the Vietnam Era. After returning to Niles, he began a lifelong career in autobody repair by opening his own shop, Rick’s Autobody Repair, and later working at Dee’s, and then Joe’s autobody repair shops.
Rick enjoyed hunting and fishing, celebrating the opening day of Bass season at 8:00 the night prior so that he would be ready to catch the first – and biggest – bass after Midnight. In addition to local lakes, he fished at Baldwin, Michigan, Drummond Island, Michigan and in Canada. He also enjoyed playing cards with friends. At home, he could fix anything, and was known to help anyone, but his greatest interest was working on cars. He combined that interest with his appreciation for Red Dog beer, and custom painted a 1983 Chevrolet pickup truck with the bulldog logo and colors. More recently he had taken the high performance engine from the truck and put it in his 1978 Corvette. Just last week he was sitting on the driveway helping with a brake repair. Above all of these interests, he loved his family, and especially the grandchildren.
On November 30, 1981 in Cassopolis he married the former Deborah L. True with whom he celebrated last year the thirty-seventh anniversary of their wedding.
Surviving family includes his wife, Debbie Phillips and their children, Nicki (& Corey Ottinger) Phillips of Cassopolis and Robert John Phillips of Cassopolis; grandchildren Cailyn Ottinger, Carlee Ottinger, and Carson Ottinger; Rick’s brothers, John Phillips of South Bend, Indiana and Scott Phillips of Cassopolis; a brother-in-law, Roy Vandenburg; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and by an infant sister, Sandra, brothers Jim Phillips and Greg Phillips, and sister Sue Vandenburg.
The Catholic Funeral Liturgy for Ricky Phillips will be read at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles by Deacon Roger Gregorski of Saint Mary Catholic Church in Niles. The service will conclude with Full Military Honors by the United States Army Honor Guard and American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan, Michigan. Committal Rites will be private, later, at Calvary Cemetery in Niles.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Sunday at the funeral home beginning at 2:00 p.m
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