Marilyn Loi Wheeless Phillips of Lafayette, Louisiana died from heart failure June 3, 2021, at a nursing home in Baton Rouge. She was 88 years old.
Marilyn was born to Owen and Judy Wheeless on January 16, 1933 in Houston, Texas. The family moved with Owen’s job assignments, living in El Paso, Sweetwater, and Midland, Texas. Marilyn graduated from Midland High School in 1950 as the class salutatorian. Marilyn then attended Texas Technological College (now known as Texas Tech) in Lubbock, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1954.
After graduation Marilyn returned to Midland and worked in the downtown office of an oil company. Soon, on a lunch break, she met Howard Phillips, who worked for Gulf Oil. The two married on December 3, 1955. Howard was also a member of the Army, so Marilyn accompanied him to his posts, in Oakland, California, where she worked as a manager in a Kaiser Aluminum design office, and then to Bremerhaven, Germany, where they made time to travel, including a trip to Holland to see the tulips. Later, after the couple returned to Midland, Marilyn had her first child, Ben.
In 1963 Gulf Oil transferred Howard to the office in Morgan City, Louisiana, so the family moved with him. Soon Marilyn had another baby, Laura, and together, Marilyn and Howard provided a loving home for their two children. Marilyn worked as a homemaker and occasional political campaign volunteer. Later, in 1980, Howard’s office moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, and so the family moved again. Marilyn and Howard divorced in 1998, but remained amicable. Marilyn remained in Lafayette until April of this year, when, because of illness, she moved to Baton Rouge to be closer to family there.
Marilyn was a creative thinker with a great wit and a kind heart. She employed her imagination in most every endeavor. She loved painting with oils and watercolors, interior design, and gardening. She supported local artistic pursuits through her membership and volunteer work with the Lafayette Art Association. Marilyn also enjoyed bridge and developed great friendships over the card tables at the Acadiana Duplicate Bridge Club. Always an animal lover, she made sure the neighborhood birds had seed and fresh water, donated to animal charities, and usually shared her home with a cat or two. Her last, Nefertiti, is a testament to her great care, as she has reached the grand age of twenty and is doing well.
However, her most beloved undertaking was that of mother and grandmother. As she told it, “When I decided to be a homemaker, I decided to do my best.” So, she became an accomplished cook, baker, and seamstress. She supported her children in their pursuit of their interests, acting as tutor, champion, event planner, and nurse as needed. Her grandchildren fondly remember Grandma helping with class projects, and entertaining them patiently during school breaks. Marilyn’s laughter was exuberant and infectious. She is missed.
Marilyn is survived by her daughter, Laura Elizabeth Phillips and her partner David Bryan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; granddaughter, Emily Margaret Phillips Naccari and her husband Craig of Lacombe, Louisiana; grandson, Matthew Benjamin Phillips of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and daughter-in-law, Vickie Ann Collura Phillips of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, Owen Oscar and Judith Elizabeth Nelson Wheeless of Abilene, Texas; son, Benjamin Howard Phillips of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and ex-husband, Howard Cottrell Phillips of Lafayette, Louisiana.
A private service for family will occur at Resthaven Gardens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, June 26, 2021, where Marilyn will be interred next to her son.