In Celebration of James Oscar Phillips

James O. Phillips worked for Minnesota Power in Duluth until 2015. He was one of the four permanent speculative fiction members of the local Lake Superior Writers for over 17 years. He maintained a strong connection with this writing group, meeting with them via Skype, even after moving to Flagstaff.

Jim developed a passion for butterflies while living in Minnesota. He did not collect them, however. He counted them. In fact, he hosted a butterfly count near his home in Saginaw, Minnesota (near Duluth) almost every year while he lived there. After moving to Flagstaff, Jim continued his long-time membership in the Northern Crescents Butterfly Club in Duluth. He kept in touch with the club, welcoming many of its members into his home in Flagstaff. He shared with them his "Arizona butterfly discoveries."

Flagstaff’s bright forests, dark skies, and Lowell Observatory were perfect for Jim’s retirement. In addition to butterflies, he loved hiking and astronomy. He hiked the cinder cones around Flagstaff on a weekly basis. Lenox Crater was one of his favorites

Arizona's unique, fire-branded geology fascinated Jim. Friends who visited from Minnesota were treated to a guided tour by Jim, who had a reputation as one of the best guides in the state.  

Shortly after his arrival in Flagstaff, he attended a science fiction workshop at Lowell Observatory. Nancy Brehm and Barbara Shovers were discussing co-founding Flagstaff Writer’s Connection at that time, and Jim met with them about developing a critique group for speculative fiction writers.

He ran the Flagstaff Speculative Fiction Critique group until the pandemic forced the group to stop meeting in person. Jim kept in touch with the group's members and was making arrangements for the group to start meeting again when he passed away of natural causes in his home during the second week of April. 

The writing communities of Duluth and Flagstaff will fondly remember Jim for his scientific curiosity, love of all things science fiction and horror, his wicked sense of humor, his keen editorial eye, and his promotion of the Oxford comma. 

He is survived by his sister, Leona Claire Fitzmaurice, his brother, Carl August Phillips, as well as Carl's daughters, Candice Pemberton and Rebecca Peterson, and their children and grandchildren. His two beloved cats, Domino and Leopold, are currently recovering at High Country Humane. They will likely be up for adoption next week. Check the website for their pictures if you are interested in adopting these older, well-behaved cats.

"No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away." -- Sir Terry Pratchett

1 comment:

  1. Per Linda Olson ( Lake Superior Writer): One of his cats, Leopold, was adopted by a lady who works from home. The other one, Domino the sweetie, is still up for adoption.