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Douglas Percy Phillips

Birth Date: January 26, 1935
Death Date: March 15, 2018

Douglas Percy Phillips, 83, of Decatur, passed away Thursday, March 15, 2018 in Jacksonville, IL.
Douglas was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin to Percy H. and Lillian S. Phillips. He attended the campus school and graduated from Central High School in 1952. From there, he had a scholarship and attended Luther College for a year. He then transferred to Northwestern University where he was a scholarship student. He was a solo clarinetist with the University Symphony, the Concert Band, and the Wind Ensemble. While a student at Northwestern, he also performed several times with the Chicago Symphony playing both clarinet and basset horn. He also was in that orchestra when they recorded for RCA Victor under Fritz Reiner. Both of his degrees, the Bachelor of Music – 1956, and the Master of Music – 1957 are from Northwestern University with further graduate work at the Eastman School of Music.

He enlisted in the Air Force until the death of his Father in 1958, at which time he returned home and subsequently taught music in the La Crosse Public Schools and then the Madison, Wisconsin Public Schools. From there, He went to Decorah, Iowa to teach at Luther College from 1961 – 1965, and then taught 32 years at Millikin University until 1997 when he retired from there with the status of Professor of Music Emeritus. He taught clarinet, clarinet methods, instrument repair and music theory courses. He did return to Millikin as an Adjunct Professor after retirement to teach sophomore music theory and clarinet methods.

While in Decatur, Douglas played Principal Clarinet in the Millikin Decatur Symphony, the Springfield, IL Symphony and soloed with both groups several times. The last few years, Douglas has played with the Jacksonville, IL Symphony as both Principal and Second Clarinet. He always said that he did this to keep his wife Susan company on the trips to Jacksonville. Douglas and Susan were married on December 5, 1980.

Besides his wife Susan, Douglas leaves behind his son Timothy, an architect in both Chicago and San Francisco. We miss him terribly.

Memorial services to celebrate the life of Douglas Phillips will be 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2018, at Graceland/Fairlawn Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday before the service at the funeral home. Memorials may be directed to the American Heart Association 2141 W White Oaks Dr # A, Springfield, IL 62704.

Cremation services will be provided by the Graceland/Fairlawn Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 2091 N. Oakland Ave. Decatur, IL. Please view the online obituary, send condolences, and share memories at

Memorial Service
March 24, 2018
2:00 pm
Graceland / Fairlawn Funeral Home
2091 N. Oakland Avenue Decatur, IL 62526
Get Directions
March 24, 2018
1:00 pm
- 2:00 pm
Graceland / Fairlawn Funeral Home
2091 N. Oakland Avenue Decatur, IL 62526
Get Directions
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  1. We were saddened to learn of the passing of Doug Phillips and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. We both always looked forward to lessons from him challenged us to the fullest extent of our abilities with a smile and gentle spirit and kind word. He had more patients than either of us deserved! We loved him not only as musician but a man of honor and talent. He gave us a true love for the clarinet and Debbie a love for music theory. Susan and Tim, may you find peace and joy in knowing you were connected to such a wonderful man.

  2. Doug was an influential mentor and colleague when I arrived at Millikin: so patient and helpful. His clarinet playing was a joy to behold: musical, heartfelt, thrilling. Susan and Tim, our thoughts are with you in the weeks and months ahead as you move, heavy hearted, into the future. We share in your sorrow … Hadi and Bruce Gibbons

  3. I am sad to learn of Mr. Phillips' passing. What an incredibly talented musician, conductor, et al. As a freshman music major at Millikin University, an upperclassman informed me, "you need to go hear Phillips' clarinet performance tonight, so you will understand what a superb clarinetist sounds like!" Fortunately, I was blessed to be in his second year music theory and clarinet methods classes (what a patient man!) and enjoyed playing cello in the symphony orchestra when he was music director. Mr. Phillips was a sweet and kind human being possessing a keen intellect. We flourished as music students as he guided us toward sharing the best of ourselves as musicians.

    ~Janis K. Johnson

  4. Susan,
    You have been in my daily thoughts since we met under such unfortunate circumstances last week. I have been praying that you and your son find peace through the beautiful memories as you celebrate Douglas' wonderful life.

    Take Care,
    Tami Wright
    IC College Health Nurse

  5. My sincerest sympathies to Timothy and Susan at this time of loss. You shall be in our thoughts and prayers. Blessings

  6. Mr Phillips was an incredible clarinet instructor to me during my time at Millikin. I Will always treasure playing duets with him. He always had a kind word, a smile, and a great sense of humor. My Dad, Jim Walker, enjoyed his friendship and playing with him in the Muni Band. Thinking of you all. So very sad to hear this.
    Chelsea Walker Phillips

  7. Mr. Phillips was an amazing clarinet teacher. I always looked forward to our lessons together; he knew I loved playing duets, and he always incorporated that into our lessons. What a sweet man. He will be missed!

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