BENTON -- James "Gib" Phillips, 81, passed away Wednesday morning, July 10, 2013, in Stonebridge Nursing Home in Benton. He was born Oct. 14, 1931, in Benton, the only child to Erne and Sybel (Robertson) Phillips. He and Bettye Lou Loften were married June 29, 1957, in Benton. Gib was a 1949 graduate of Benton High School and attended SIU Carbondale. He later served his country proudly in the U.S. Air Force for four years. He was a member of the heralded Air Force Marching Band and performed in the 1953 Rose Parade at Pasadena, Calif. Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Gib began a career in sales for the Amoco Oil Company, where he spent his entire professional career. After 36 years with Amoco, he retired in 1992 as field sales manager for the St. Louis metropolitan territory and moved back to Benton for the duration of his retirement. His sales skills, devotion to his company and energetic leadership helped him to achieve numerous recognitions over the course of his employment with Amoco. Gib's greatest passion in life was his music. A talented musician from a very early age, he mastered both the clarinet and saxophone. He loved playing to an audience whether in public or at home with family and friends. During his time of residence in Cape Girardeau, Mo., he was a member of the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band for 12 years. He also performed regularly during church services for First Christian Church in Benton during his retirement years. Gib was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather whose easygoing nature, love of family and passion for service endeared him to all who knew him. His greatest pride was his daughter, Jamie, and his three grandchildren, Meredith, Monica and Vance. Community service played an important role in Gib's life both before and after retirement. In addition to Cape Girardeau Municipal Band, Gib was a member of First Christian Church of Cape Girardeau, where he served as an elder for many years. Later as a resident of St. Louis, Mo., he was a member of the Greater St. Louis Oil Men's Club. In retirement Gib gave back unselfishly to the Benton community, serving as a member of the Park Board, Tourism Board, Lion's Club, the Southern Illinois Municipal Band, president of the Rotary Club and elder and choir member at First Christian Church in Benton. Loving survivors include his wife of 56 years, Bettye Lou; their daughter, Jamie (Adrian) Toole of Cape Girardeau; and three grandchildren, Meredith Toole of Washington, D.C., Monica Toole of Louisville, Ky., and Vance Toole of Cape Girardeau. He was preceded in death by his parents. Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, at First Christian Church in Benton, with the Rev. Bill A. Carter officiating. Burial will be at Masonic and Oddfellows Cemetery in Benton, with military rites conducted at graveside by Benton American Legion, VFW Posts and National Guard Honor Team. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the church. Memorials may be made either to First Christian Church of Benton building fund or to the Alzheimer's Association. Morton and Johnson Funeral Home in Benton is in charge of arrangements.
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