Gene was born September 10, 1942, to the late Elizabeth C. Phillips and William Phillips in Opelousas, Louisiana. He attended J.S. Clark School in Opelousas, Louisiana, for his elementary through high school years. Gene attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for one year before transferring to Texas Southern University in Houston, TX.
After transferring to Texas Southern, Gene was drafted into the United States Air Force and served as an aerial photographer in Vietnam. Upon returning from Vietnam, Gene married Elsa Rita Haydel on November 11, 1967. Gene continued pursuing his degree and graduated from Texas Southern University, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree, and then proceeded to a 40-plus year career as an Engineer at Hughes Tool Company now known as Baker Hughes.
In 1982, Gene joined the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver (KPC). This Organization became the heart and soul of his life's mission until his passing. He served the Organization in many leadership roles before being elected in 2006 as the 15th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. This accomplishment allowed him to touch the lives of thousands and inspired hundreds of Claver members to live a life of service to God, the Church, and their Community. Through the Knights of Peter Claver, Gene developed relationships with Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals, from all over the country. These relationships were treasured by him the most. Gene's signature program was the Million Hour Service Project, in which he challenged members of the Organization to complete One Million Hours of Service to the Church and communities across the country. In addition, he established a National Recognition Award program for leaders in local units under his tenure. He presided over the 100 Anniversary of the Organization and hosted the International Alliance of Catholic Knights. Gene was honored for his service in the Organization by being awarded a Gold Medal; the highest award presented to members. In addition, he received several Congressional Recognition Awards and many other service awards from other national organizations.
If you knew Gene, you knew he was an avid walker. He always encouraged people to walk and exercise with him. In his neighborhood or at a convention, he would walk miles, greeting everyone he saw while bouncing his tennis ball. In honor of Gene's love for walking, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School established the Gene A. Phillips, Sr. Walking to Live/Walking to Give 5k Fun Walk, which raised scholarship funds for the church school. Each year of the event, Gene would lead the participants in the 5k.
Gene noticed a need for Inner-City Catholic Churches to work more in cooperation with each other, to not compete with fundraising activities. So, with his leadership, he helped found the Inner-City Catholic Association, whose goal was to have representatives from seven Black Churches meet regularly to coordinate fundraising activities.
Gene loved wearing his Vietnam Veterans cap and used the cap as a conversation starter wherever he would go. It was not unusual for him to stop strangers wherever he was to speak to them and ask them about their stories about being in Vietnam. Gene was always the last person to leave a room because he had to talk to everyone before leaving.
Gene was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, serving as President of the Pastoral Council, Finance Council, School Board, and Captial Campaigns. He earned the Bene-Merenti Service Award 2021 from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
He was also a member of Fr. John H. Dorsey 4th Degree Assembly #2, Knights of Columbus St. Edward Council 14512; J.S. Clark Alumni Association; Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; KPC Houston Inter-City Councils and Courts; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); The International Alliance of Catholic Knights (IACK); and Texas Metropolitan Organization (TMO).
Gene traveled the world, including a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the tomb of St. Peter Claver. He lived the last couple of years enjoying talking and spending time with his family and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Elsa Rita Phillips; his children Gene Anthony Phillips, Jr. (Marlexa), and Derek Jerome Phillips; grandchildren Gene Anthony Phillips, III (Trey) and Sydni Alexis Phillips; siblings Warren Phillips (Anita), Jessica Baker (Ben), Irene Whitaker (Ralph), Carlin C. Lazard (Wilbert - deceased), and Marion Carrier Rosette. He was preceded in death by his parents, Elizabeth and William Phillips, Joseph Bourque (Stepfather); siblings Patricia Guillory, William Phillips, Jr.(Fuyumi-deceased), and Joseph Bourque, Jr (Myra), and host of nephews and nieces, great-nephews, great-nieces, cousins, and extended family.
A visitation for Gene will be held Wednesday, December 21, 2022, from 8:00 AM to 9:15 AM at St . Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 5102 Dabney St, Houston, TX 77026, with the Rosary starting at 9:15 AM. The funeral Mass will occur Wednesday, December 21, 2022, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 5102 Dabney St, Houston, TX 77026, with a repast to take place immediately after in the church hall. The committal service will be Wednesday, December 21, 2022, at 2:15 PM at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77038.
In Lieu of Flowers
Please make a donation in Memory of Gene Anthony Phillips, Sr. to Houston Inter-City Councils and Courts Fellowship Hall Building Fund @ the following: https://www.kpchicc.com