Rudolph Meldon Phillips
24 Apr 1941 - 26 Nov 2018
BREWSTER - Rudy Phillips, beloved partner, father, grandfather and friend to many, died on November 26, 2018. He was 77 years old. He left peacefully from home in Brewster, surrounded by his partner Tom O’Brien of 35 years, his sons Brock and Blake, daughters-in-law Gretchen and LJ, dear friends and hospice angels. Like the way of Rudy’s life, he passed away the way he wanted. No extraordinary measures were made since he had terminal cancer and he was at peace in his own room.
A few days before Thanksgiving, his sons, daughters in law, grandsons and partner were all gathered to express their deep love for him. He was awake, alert and very grateful for our love. He reflected it back to us all.
Rudy was born in Chicago, IL on April 24, 1941 to Alice and Rudy Phillips Sr. They were hard working parents who had modest income. Even as a boy, Rudy was a go-getter and worked since childhood. An honors student in high school he became a chemical engineer with a Master’s degree from Purdue University. He married his H.S. sweetheart, Bluette, in 1962 and they had their first son Brock later in the year. In 1966, second son Blake came into this world. They lived in a variety of states as Rudy climbed the ladder of his chosen profession. While working in the corporate world, Rudy also went to Chase Law school and joined the Ohio bar in 1977.
Over the years he worked for Proctor & Gamble, the Pet Corporation, consulted world wide and created a number of breakthroughs. Rudy developed Folger’s coffee crystals, Pringles potato chips and widened the Old El Paso brand of salsas. He fulfilled his career by becoming president of Crompton and Knowles, a leading ingredient technology company located in New Jersey during 1983. That year was pivotal for Rudy. He separated from his wife Bluette and also met Tom O’Brien. This new friendship with Tom grew into a 35 year relationship. His ex-wife moved to Montana and married a highly educated rancher. Happily they are still together in Belgrade, Montana and both remained friends with Rudy and Tom.
Rudy embraced Tom’s spiritual longing to immerse into the Integral Yoga. People of the Integral Yoga eventually saw Rudy’s business acumen and recruited him to the Foundation for World Education, becoming its president for ten years. This foundation funneled money to Auroville, the international experimental community of human unity in south India. Rudy and Tom visited Auroville several times over the years and hosted many international guests, who found a guest house at their homes both in New Jersey and later, Cape Cod.
For the joy of it, Rudy was an avid gardener and designer. Wherever he lived, the home became re-designed by Rudy’s imaginative creativity. After moving to Cape Cod in 2002 he decided to become a massage therapist. Within a year he created Wellspring Massage Therapy, a center which kept going in Eastham until 2014. He also painted, danced, skied and took up scuba diving. Rudy championed human civil rights and he became a strong environmentalist. Beloved by all who knew him, Rudy will remain alive in many of our hearts forever.
A memorial service will be held at First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist Church on January 5, 2019. As an expression of sympathy, donations can be made to Matagiri, a tax deductible Sri Aurobindo Center near Woodstock, NY. Or, one may donate to Auroville International USA (AVI-USA) and send either donation to: Matagiri, 1218 Wittenberg Rd., Mt Tremper, NY 12457. Donations are tax deductible. www.matagiri.org (845) 679-5358.
Rudy Phillips was a member of TImes Squares from 1991 to 2003. He was a lovely man, a true gentleman who cared deeply about his family and friends. Rudy and his lover, Tom O’Brien, lived in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey until they moved near Provincetown and Rudy traded in his lawyer’s training to become a licensed massage therapist.
If you ask me what I remember most about Rudy and Tom, it would be their annual, men only, summer party, in New Jersey, complete with catered meals, in-grounded heating swimming pool, volleyball court, etc. It was an amazing day stocked with square dancers and others who were friends of Rudy and Tom. Most of us ended up naked by mid-day. This is the more earthy part of being gay and Rudy and Tom helped us connect with the gay within us.
- Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, MA) Sunday, 16 Dec 2018
- Times Squared newsletter, new series v.1 no.3 (November 2019) p.6