Michael B. “Mike” Phillips, 81, of Wisconsin Rapids, passed away on Tuesday evening, Jan. 2, 2018, at home, while under the care of his family and Heartland Hospice.
If you knew Mike, you know he lived life large and to the fullest. He was born on April 10, 1936, in Rockford, Illinois, to the late Cecil and Harriet (Hogan) Phillips, and graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1954. As a kid, he would hop on a train to go on various adventures and his love for trains stayed with him his whole life. There was no keeping him still. As a teenager, he fell in love with fast cars and against his parents’ wishes, joined the group called the Thunder Bolts.
First, he married Linda Varble in 1958 and they lived in Rockford. He then married Nancy Loser on September 5, 1964, in Rockford. They were looking for a change in scenery and packed up the family and moved from Rockford to Port Edwards in 1976 where they lived until 1993. Nancy passed away suddenly January 30, 1993, soon after they moved to Milwaukee. After a summer of doing things a bachelor does, including riding a bull at the Keller alumni rodeo, he married Mary Jane Gorham, on February 12, 1994.
Mike was an electrician with I.B.E.W. for his most of his working career. In retirement, he worked maintenance at the Super 8 Motel, was a groundskeeper at The Ridges Golf Course and was a bus driver at Safe-Way Bus Transit for 13 years.
Mike had many interests and hobbies throughout his life. For many years, you could hear his undeniable voice as the announcer for the Little Britches Rodeo. More recently, he thoroughly enjoyed being the liturgist at his church where you never knew what he might say but you knew it was going to be unique as well as inspiring. He was the Water & Light Commissioner in Wisconsin Rapids and a member of the Writers’ Club at the Lowell Senior Center. His other interests included gardening, ice fishing, reading and he was an avid model train railroader. He had a very impressive and elaborate train room that he built with his family and friends and loved to show to anyone that had 5 minutes to spare.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Jane Phillips of Wisconsin Rapids; son, David (Denice, deceased) Phillips of Rockford; daughter, Nadine (Jim, deceased) Bagley of Winter Haven, Florida; daughter, Julie Matthews of Marion; son, Michael (Kristine) Accardo of Berwyn, Illinois; son, Charles (Val Ranguette) Phillips of Lodi; daughter, Kristie (Craig) Specht of Lodi; step-children, Art (Sandra) Gorham of Wisconsin Rapids, Richard (Kim) Gorham of Clinton, Utah, John Gorham of Wisconsin Rapids, and Susan (Bruce) Williams of Franklin; sister, Sue (Bob) Garland; brother, Tom (Karen) Phillips; sister, Ruth (Denny) Domack; sister, Mary (Kurt) Thorell; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Victor Phillips; and grandchildren, Michael Matthews and Jennifer Matthews.
The family thanks Heartland Hospice for their support for the past 11 months, especially RN Tiffany and CNA Laura.
It brought Mike and Mary Jane great joy hearing children laughing and having fun. Therefore in lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Wisconsin Rapids Aquatic Center. Donations can be made ‘In Memory of Mike Phillips’ online at aquatics.wirapids.org or in person at the Finance Department in City Hall.
The memorial service for Mike will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at the United Methodist Church in Wisconsin Rapids, with the Rev. Joshua Pegram officiating. Visitation will be at the church, prior to the service, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
The Herman-Taylor Funeral Home & Cremation Center is honored to be assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit www.taylorfuneralhome.net.