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Eric Harold Phillips
  • 87 years old
  • Date of birth: Jun 2, 1927
  • Place of birth:
    Ada, Ohio, United States
  • Date of passing: Sep 2, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    El Dorado Hills, California, United States
Husband, father, grandfather, geologist, banjo player and writer. We will miss you.

We celebrate the life of Eric Phillips, beloved husband of Lynn Phillips, caring father to John, Doug, Jim, and Dave Phillips and daughters-in-law Christine, Marlene, Carol and Alice and happy grandfather to Lauren, Jeffrey, Bryant, David, Audrey, Liz, Katie, Jack, and Julia Phillips and great grandfather to Owen Phillips.

Eric was born in Ohio but moved several times in childhood eventually settling in the east bay area of California with parents Morna and John Phillips. In the early 1940s, he attended Acalanes High School in Walnut Creek and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.  He married his college sweetheart, Helen Lynette Laundy, and whisked her off to a joyful and sometimes hectic life hopping from state to state as a petroleum geologist for Gulf Oil Company (and later Chevron).  As a geologist he was both scientist and businessman with numerous oil field discoveries and management of Gulf offices. In retirement he contributed signficantly to the understanding of Oklahoma geology and helped unravel the complex offshore geology of southern California.

Eric was a father who took his family on many summer trips across the US, he was a boy scout leader for Troop 188 in Bakersfield, CA and he founded the first Fourth of July celebration in Tyler, TX.  In retirement he volunteered at the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier museum stationed in Alameda, CA.  In his wood-working shop at home, he created a series of 6-foot diameter squadron seals that still hang in the Hornet today.

Eric's life was filled with adventures, like his numerous geology field trips to Alaska with harrowing helicopter lifts to high mountain peaks and multiple encounters with grizzly bears. But many of his interests were intellectual including an interest in politics, science, education, energy, finance and even the history of various religions.  But of course his life-long passion was reserved for geology and his contributions in the field were large both from a business perspective and as a pure science.

In retirement Eric & Lynn toured across North America and Europe with cruises in the Mediterranean, Alaska and the Panama Canal. They visited son Jim and daughter-in-law Carol in Oman to add to their adventures.

We will badly miss him.  He was our family leader and he cared deeply for his wife, his sons and their wives and all of his grandchildren.  We hope that each member of the family and every friend of Eric and Lynn can contribute a story or a picture on this website so that we can all enjoy and celebrate the life of Eric Phillips. 

You can contribute by leaving a note below, or tell a longer story (click on the Stories tab above), or upload a photo (on the Gallery tab above).

Memorial page for Helen Lynette Phillips

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Eldon Brodie on 2nd September 2015

"I am grateful that Eric was my friend for many years on the Hornet. There is not a day that goes by when I work on the Hornet, as a Docent, that I don't point out to the public all the seals and the scoreboard that Eric made at home. No one will forget him and his contributions to our museum."

This tribute was added by Marge Hudock on 2nd September 2015

"I have shared the tributes of Things to do in the memory of Eric ( and Lynn) to many and keep the photos on my desk.  They were a special couple and we shared many a bridge game!"

This tribute was added by Marion Harris on 6th November 2014

"I send my deepest sympathy to Lynnette and her family..  My memories of Eric go way back to when we were students at Cal.  One semester Lynnette and I ran out of money and had to drop out the sorority.  Eric and his buddies looked after us so we didn't have time to miss Kappa Delta.  He was a darling man!  I was greatly honored to take part in their wedding."

This tribute was added by Audrey Phillips on 16th September 2014

"When I think of Grandad, I think of the pillar of our family- such a strong man who loved teaching his grandkids about history, geology, the stock market, great movies, and how to abide by a moral code that always pointed due north. What never ceases to amaze me though was how loving and thoughtful he was. For being such a sturdy figure, he had the warmest heart. He carved and painted all of us grandkids Mickey and Minnie Mouse plaques when we were each born, he played Pretty Pretty Princess and had "make-believe" parties with all 5,000 of my stuffed animals and me, and he tried his hardest to inspire musical talent in all of us- I'll speak for myself and say I failed miserably with the guitar. We could talk for hours about the latest movies and how wonderful Amy Adams was in 'Enchanted' or how great the music was in 'Chicago'. I loved exchanging stories of college experiences and Greek life and how Cal was definitely going down when they played UW. Just the other week, my uncles were going through some of his things, and they found an envelope that said, "Wedding presents for Grandchildren in case we're not here for their weddings." Inside was a savings bond for each grandchild who had not yet gotten married or engaged. I couldn't believe the amount of thought and love he put into his family. He was so generous and compassionate that he even thought ahead for our hypothetical weddings to people some of us haven't even met yet, and he even threw in a side note that we could still have the bond if we didn't get married by the time we were 30; he seriously thought of everything! It astounds me that even after his time here is up, he's still showing us how caring of a man he was.

A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to form a close relationship with their grandparents, and as much as I wish I had infinite more time with him, I’m so thankful and fortunate that I was able to truly get to know him and respect the man he was, and I’ll cherish our time together forever. I hope he knew how much of an impact he had on our lives and how much we appreciated him as a role model and as a grandfather."

This tribute was added by Todd Halihan on 16th September 2014

"As a professor at Oklahoma State, I met Eric when he sent me his theory on Oklahoma geology that I teach as the "Phillips Hypothesis".  It was fantastic to have him present his theory with Lynn and it was a great honor to meet a true "Gentleman Geologist".  I was overjoyed when he and Jim came out in 2012 to actually find the boulders that were key to the hypothesis in the field.  We hope to someday have his hypothesis taught as general knowledge for what Eric knew was obvious."

This tribute was added by James Philllips on 15th September 2014

"Anyone who knew Dad could quickly see his outstanding strong qualities such as his unwavering integrity, his complete dedication to family, and his passion for geology.  I was fortunate enough to be able to share this passion for geology with him as I followed in his footsteps to become a petroleum exploration geologist.  Dad had an extremely interesting career with assignments in California, Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, in varied geologic provinces where he mastered the geology of each new posting.  My professional assignments took me overseas for most of 30 year career and Dad followed all my ventures like he was there.  Whenever I would visit Mom and Dad and have a quiet chance to discuss geology with Dad, we would love to swap stories.  We spoke the same “language” and it provided a special bond for us.  He would commonly reminisce of his adventures offshore California on early drill ships, helicopter fieldwork in the spectacular ranges of Alaska, drilling in the windswept plains of Wyoming or unravelling complex terrains in Oklahoma.  In November of 2012, Dad was invited by Oklahoma State University to help guide a field trip in the eastern part of the state.  I had a window of time available in my work and asked Dad if I could tag along.  He agreed and the 5 day trip was a great adventure for both of us to immerse ourselves in geology and for me to see the respect he commanded by geologists that were trying so hard to understand what he had understood for years.  Dad openly shared his knowledge and theories with all willing to listen.  Dad was a great father, a wonderful husband, and a world class geologist!  I will miss him greatly."

This tribute was added by Carol Phillips on 12th September 2014

"From Mick Gaul, U.S.S. Hornet Volunteer with Eric:

I was sorry to hear the news of Eric's death, especially after just recently talking to him and getting a card from him the very day I heard he had passed away.  I met Eric in the Admiral's Quarters on the Hornet reinstalling ventilation ducts.  We discovered that we both lived in San Ramon just a few miles apart so began sharing the commute.  During our rides to the Hornet, I became the student and he was the teacher of geology.  He pointed out the various rock formations and named each one.  Also, his display of wood craftsmanship in the Hornet will always be a reminder of his many talents.  

Pat and I enjoyed our time spent with Lynn and Eric at the Hornet Chistmas parties and social gatherings.  We had the pleasure of meeting Dave and Alice at the fourth of July gathering to watch the fireworks.  

Our hearts go out to you, Lynn, and to all the family as you grieve the loss of your loved one.  Mick and Pat Gaul"

This tribute was added by Marilyn and Gene Wilson on 10th September 2014

"My connection to Eric was through Lynette (yes, she'll always be Lynette to her high school friends), but he was always most hospitable to us when we dropped in on them in whatever city they then lived.  And, of course, we enjoyed his banjo playing at the Straw Hat or Round Table Pizza Parlor in Pleasant Hill.  I just know he's got his banjo with him and is busy serenading the angels as we speak.  How fortunate they are!"

This tribute was added by marlene phillips on 9th September 2014

"My father in law was one of those people you could always count on; strong, knowledgable about everything, and imminently practical. It seemed like very little could shake him, and I think everyone in the family counted on that, and counted on him. I know our two sons would say the same thing about their dad, and I'm sure his dad in turn was really proud to see that. With his sweetheart by his side he led a life well lived. I'm glad I got to be a small part of it."

This tribute was added by marlene phillips on 9th September 2014

"From Jenna Nelson:
My condolences to the whole family especially to Aunty Lynnette. I don't know if Uncle Eric talked about this but the first time I met Uncle Eric was during their visit to Maui not to long after we moved there. During the dinner Uncle Eric and I got into an exciting conversation about American history. At the end of it he gave me advice about my passion of history. Either I study history and become a teacher at the college level or become a geologist. I hope sharing this helps during this time."

This tribute was added by Al and Nora Kolthoff on 8th September 2014

"Eric was a founding member of the El Dorado Hills Senior Fun Time Band - a volunteer band to play for local seniors. He played his banjo and sang with the band for 6 years. He arranged most of the band songs, and was a music structure and chord expect. The band members of Connie Backers, Bob Hoffman, Frank Iarossi, and Al Kolthoff have many fond and fun filled memories of our more than 100 concerts together. We hope to see him on the other side."

This tribute was added by Sally Lee on 8th September 2014

"Eric was a great guy and even though we don't live close, we enjoyed him so much when we did connect.  He and Garth shared the joy of playing banjo. Garth had great admiration for his banjo skills and to his delight when we got home after our visit with cousin Lynn and Eric, he had mailed to Garth copies of his technique - he was thrilled. Prayers and blessings to you all."

This tribute was added by James Philllips on 8th September 2014

"As a lifelong friend of Jim's going back to Junior High in Bakersfield, I reflect back on my experiences not only with Eric but the Phillip's household on Cambridge Drive. It was a difficult time for me personally with a troubled home life but being with and around Jim, his brothers and parents provided me a refuge within such a normal family. I was always made to feel welcome and comfortable in Eric and Lynn's home even while we "terrorized" the swimming pool after school or raided the refrigerator for snacks and refreshments! At the time I thought Eric was a rather "stern" father and who could blame him to come home at the end of a workday and see your home taking over by a bunch of wild teenagers. We really weren't but now I know and appreciate he was a great role model as a firm but fair, patient, generous and kind father and person. My heartfelt sympathy to Lynn and the entire Phillips clan.

Mike Walton"

This tribute was added by Peggy and Ron Lawrence on 8th September 2014

"We had the pleasure of getting to know this lovely couple, Eric and Lynn, through our local bridge club.  We had the pleasure of hearing Eric speak just last month  when he shared his vast knowledge of geologic formations,  He was a musician, a writer and, definitely a scholar.  He was so proud of Lynn and his four sons.  An all around great guy and he will be missed."

This tribute was added by Jeffry Phillips on 8th September 2014

"The days after my Grandad passed I spent sitting in a classroom of my new job, learning in depth about the illness that took him.  It was very hard to separate the the objectivity from the emotions in my head.

But if there is one isolated characteristic that I will remember my Grandad by and carry with me, it would be his relentless passion for his field of study and work: geology.  He spent his whole life learning and teaching the field he found so fascinating.  Even making major contributions to the field well into his 80s.  

I hope that I can match that same passion he had, in the work that I do.  And I hope I can carry my middle name "Eric" well."

This tribute was added by Jimmie and Gary Grann on 8th September 2014

"We have been blessed to have Eric & Lynn as our neighbors and friends for the last 9 years!  Eric was the loveliest of men!  He was smart and funny, thoughtful and kind with another interesting project always on the drawing board. I was honored to be asked to read and comment on one of his book was good!  He loved Lynn very much and was so proud of all his family. His ability to talk about geological things so that a layman could understand was impressive. What joy could fill a room when he sang and played the banjo!!!  He was a special Renaissance Man, my friend, and he will be so very missed by so very many of us...his friends!"

This tribute was added by Dave Phillips on 8th September 2014

"Today is my first day back at work.  I’m very lucky to be a middle school teacher.   My students have been so sweet to me today.  Lots of hugs.    One of the many wonderful things about teaching is that it forces you to organize your thoughts. What exactly is it you’re trying to teach?   What words, examples and metaphors will you use?  I think maybe that’s one reason why Dad wrote so much later in his life.   The act of creating something for others helped him clarify various topics for himself.  So what to tell my students?  I think they feel close to me (as I do to them) and I felt I should say something regarding my week long absence.  I started by saying that my Dad lived a long, full life that ended quietly.  True, and maybe enough, but I thought this might be a moment to teach.  (And what’s the point of having iron-clad tenure if you don’t use it!) So I reached for Goofy.  Dad made a bunch of these wooden desk plaques with the Disney character, Goofy, done in gorgeous wood veneer inlay.  Goofy’s head is being split open by an axe.  Engraved in brass at the bottom, it reads, “Keep an Open Mind.”  It’s actually very beautiful.  Artistic.   It’s been in my classroom for years.  With a little prompting, I asked them to comment on the possible meanings.   Who knows, maybe Dad smiled at their responses.  “It means we should think for ourselves.”  “We should always try to learn new things.”  “We should be tolerant of other people.”   “Goofy was too goofy so they split his head open.”  All good stuff, mostly."

This tribute was added by Carol Phillips on 8th September 2014

"I will always remember Eric as a generous, good, decent man, the salt of the Earth who put his family first.   As a father in-law, he always showed generosity and kindness, opening his home to me at any given moment or babysitting while I went shopping for yet another pair of shoes.  As a father, he lived by example, giving his love and teaching his sons his moral code.  Jim still remembers the day when he pocketed a piece of petrified wood from the Petrified National Forest.  When questioned by his father "Are you sure you didn't take any petrified wood?", Jim shamefully relinquished his stolen goods.  As a grandfather, he always was willing to play silly games like Pretty, Pretty Princess; sitting bejeweled with a crown and earrings.  And as a husband, he displayed unconditional love, devotion and admiration to his wife of 64 years, Lynnette. We will all miss Eric's physical presence, but he will always be with us in the lessons of life that he has taught us all."

This tribute was added by Victor Soetaert on 8th September 2014

"Alice Phillips is my big sister.  I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Eric over the years since I lived a ways away from the clan.  The times I did get to see Eric was always a pleasure.  Like the time I enjoyed a Spam sandwich on a Sunday afternoon with Eric at his home in San Ramon!  Eric's calm demeanor and even keel approach to story telling was an art. :-)  Obviously, a great man who was loved and will be missed by all that knew him.  Love, Vic"

This tribute was added by John Phillips on 7th September 2014

"It's hard for me to sort out my feelings and memories of my Dad so soon after he left us.  He impacted my life so deeply and taught me so much- about being a man, a father,  a husband, and a citizen.  There's  too much to thank him for, for guiding us, protecting us, feeding us.  He's doing all those things even now  But okay, here's one thing, just one.  One of my main hobbies is creating games.  They're complicated and require a thorough understanding of probabilities.  Everything I know about dice and probabilities came from a simple lesson my Dad took the time to sit down and give me one day, when I was about twelve.  No one could have made it clearer.  It meant I could create games for the next fifty years, walk into a casino and understand the craps table, and understand how probabilities affect life in a hundred ways.  That one lesson enriched me.  There were countless others   What do you think the probabilities are that I will ever stop loving or missing my Dad?"

This tribute was added by Evan Goldstein on 6th September 2014

"I met Eric once and really didn't know him at all, except through his boys, especially his son, John, who has been my life-long best friend.  They are non-ideological boys who don't believe in much of anything.  But they're the sorts of boys who, if marooned in a part of east Texas that eschewed the celebration of July 4th because it's not a white person's holiday, would have walked quietly into Town Hall, made some observations, planned the celebration, and stayed to watch the town gradually turn out.  And then would have left.  Quietly.  Like their dad."

This tribute was added by Don Soetaert on 5th September 2014

"Eric was our Daughter Alice's Father-in-law. Liz and I got to see him(and Lynn) often at Alice and Dave's house. I always looked forward to seeing Eric there. He was very interesting and very intelligent especially about oil and geology.I loved his stories about Bakersfield, West Texas and Alaska and only wished to have followed his investment strategy. I will miss Eric very much."

This tribute was added by Lauren Phillips on 5th September 2014

"I shared many happy memories with Grandad over the years. My favorite might be one evening I spent with him and some of my cousins when I was about eight years old. Grandad taught us how to play Mexican Train, and he served us all kid-friendly "Grandad Specials." He was a wonderful grandfather and he will be missed."

This tribute was added by Douglas Phillips on 5th September 2014

"From Paul White:
I have many fond memories of those years on Cambridge Drive
in Bakersfield. One that comes to mind most often, though, is
being in your family room and watching (B&W) TV on July 20,
1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo XI Lunar Lander
and set foot on the moon. I don't know if most people remember
where they were on that day, but I do. And all those 'banjo and
guitar' nights... Fantastic to have those as memories..."

This tribute was added by Douglas Phillips on 5th September 2014

"From Joe Leather:
I cannot fully express how sad I felt to learn of Eric's passing.  We worked in the "Duct Crew" on the Hornet and had many good times together.  All of us were sorry when he moved out of the area but knew being close to family was so important.  He loved playing the banjo and did enjoy the group he was with. Wilma and I send Lynn our love and deepest sympathy."

This tribute was added by Douglas Phillips on 5th September 2014

"From David Waterbury:
I was saddened by the news. I haven’t seen Eric and Lynn for 3 or 4 years and now wished we had visited more recently. Your Dad was my only cousin and I his. My Dad was very proud of Eric’s accomplishments and oil business savvy. Dad held Eric up as an icon to me growing up.”Do your homework or eat your vegetables,  if you want to grow up to be a fine young man like your cousin.” I have vivid memories of visiting Walnut Creek with Aunt Morna and Uncle John when I was about 9 years old.(1947 or 48) Eric and Lynn took me to a movie at the Orinda, I even remember the movie. I remember looking at them both and thinking Wow! going to Cal, young and good looking, it just didn’t get any better. It all bolstered my image of him and put him further up on that pedestal."

This tribute was added by Douglas Phillips on 5th September 2014

"From Eldon Brodie:
The news is truly sad. I worked with Eric for several years as one of the Duck Crew. We worked many, many jobs together, installing air ducts, putting new hard cast on all the asbestos covered steam lines thru out the ship. There was not much that we did not do. To me, it is a hard blow to the gut to hear that he has passed on. I know, that all that knew Eric will be saddened by our loss to the Hornet Crew. We will consider him a shipmate for ever. All my sympathy goes to your family and especially Lynn."

This tribute was added by Douglas Phillips on 5th September 2014

"From Floyd White:
Eric & Lynn were great friends and neighbors and Eric was a great co-worker with me at Gulf Oil Corporation. I have very fond memories of them on Cambridge Drive. Giving my fondest regards  to Lynn and my prayers go out to all of you."

This tribute was added by Richard Nelson on 4th September 2014

"Eric reminded me of an aircraft carrier of grand dimensions whose mission was to launch and recover his family and business on missions of significance. He never flinched from a mission, but always kept an eye to the horizon, what lay beneath him, and what flew above him.  His steadfast course and momentum prohibited fast turns, but no one left
a greater wake."

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