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Joseph M. Phillips, Jr.


Joe Phillips, of New Hope, passed away Jan 20, 2024, from cancer. Born October 13, 1949, in Boswell, western PA, Joe was an adventuresome and curious spirit, and his life took him to all but two states in the U.S., as well as many countries in Europe and Asia. He was multi-talented, with a firm foot in science and an appreciation for the arts, especially music, dance, and cooking. Professionally, he was a forensic toxicologist and lab designer, but his interests ranged from sketching beach scenes to tango dancing. He could talk to anyone about anything.

In high school, he followed in the athletic footsteps of his uncle and grandfather, playing quarterback on the football team. He developed an interest in playing the drums and joined a local band. An honor student, Joe also was involved in drama, as an actor and set designer. At Bucknell University, he earned a BA in Chemistry, was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, and continued to play football and play drums in a band. After college, he worked as a forensic toxicologist in Virginia, California, Alaska, and Colorado. Joe then earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Colorado and, of course, with other grad students formed a rock band. An avid and accomplished skier, Joe hit the slopes in his free time outside the lab and the classroom. When he moved back to the east coast, he earned an MBA from NYU.

He was most recently employed by CRB Group as Senior Laboratory Planner. Other AEC work included Phillips Collaborative, IBM, CUH2A, Inc, and Hellmuth Obata Kassabaum (HOK). He designed labs for Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Proctor & Gamble, Regeneron, Genentech, National Institutes of Health, US AMRIID, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joe and Betty, his partner of the last 12 years, loved to travel. They explored the world, including the caves of Veuve Clicquot in France, tango venues in Italy, and many of the Caribbean islands, where they soaked up the sun and discovered the exquisite form of a seashell through Joe’s unusual angle of his camera lens. He had a special way of viewing nature and life.

He also volunteered at Phillips’ Mill Community Association, as a board member maintaining Buildings and Grounds, and on stage as a singer, a dancer, and a drummer in the band.

Joe built things, fixed things, and grew things. He loved to share his extensive knowledge and often said, “Here, let me draw it.” No 1000 words needed. Joe’s enthusiasm, drive, and knack for thinking outside the box made his life, just like his physical body in its prime, robust, indeed.

He is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Phillips, and partner, Betty Benton, his sister, Dora Duncan, and 5 nieces and nephews and their children. There will be a private celebration of Joe’s life for family and friends.

Memorial gifts to honor Joe can be made to Phillips Mill toward the sound and light system upgrade at

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