As the story goes, his unit was under heavy enemy fire and their only hope of survival was to run across an open field toward thick bushes and trees which might provide life-saving cover. After steeling themselves, the soldiers took off, single file, running for their lives, whispering their prayers along the way. As each man reached the other side of the field and safety of cover, he breathed a sigh of relief. However, Bobby knew that he would one day leave the jungles of Vietnam and make it back home safely. He was a young man of faith, so he firmly believed that God would shield him from harm. As the last soldier running in that line, the enemy took aim at Bobby but only got close enough to shoot the heel off his boot. Bobby kept that boot as a reminder of God’s love and grace. He had fought for his country and lived to see his family again. (It is rumored that Bobby broke a land speed record that day in the jungle. While that was never actually confirmed, we will forever be grateful to him for finding his way back home to us.)
Bobby (also affectionately known as “Buddy” and “Big Bob”) began his earthly journey on August 5,1946 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. He and his twin, Bettie Ree Phillips, were born to Carl (d) and Allie B. Phillips (d). They were 2 of 11 children. In 1952, Carl and Allie relocated their family to San Diego, CA. Bobby was a natural athlete who excelled at several sports but was particularly gifted as a Forward on Lincoln High School’s varsity basketball team (1963-65). Soon after graduation, he was drafted
into the U.S. Army in 1966 and received an Honorable Discharge in 1968. One day on base at Fort Ord, he met an incredibly smart and beautiful young woman as she was walking to a babysitting job. In his typical smooth, confident style, Bobby approached her and said, “hey girl, where you going?” He was wearing his hat pulled down real low (which, luckily for him, the young lady kind of liked), and the rest is history. That young lady was Darlene Bigham whom Bobby married June 22, 1968. Their wedding was held at the home of Pastor Caney Johnson (Mt. Zion), with Bobby’s sisters, Johnette and Dorothy, serving as witnesses. Bobby and Darlene soon bought a home and began their beautiful family. Bobby loved Darlene, their children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren. He loved all his family and friends, and they all knew it.
Bobby was raised in a Christian home and was always a man of faith. However, on November 25, 2017 he revealed to a host of family members he led in Bible study that it was the loss of his precious mother that brought him back to church. Bobby dedicated the last 35 years of his life to Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Throughout the years, he served as a Deacon (received his Certificate of Ordination on September 10, 1995), Trustee, Chairman of the Pastor’s Anniversary Committee, Sunday School
teacher, a member of the Men’s Choir, Sound Technician and served in many other capacities. Serving God was at the center of Bobby’s adult life. In the early 90’s, he began singing with the gospel group Mighty Wings (later known as The Mighty Wings of Faith). He later co-founded the popular gospel group The Brothers of Praise Phase II (f/k/a The Brothers of Praise) and served as President. He was a gifted vocalist, blessed with a beautiful voice.
Bobby built a long and successful career with San Diego Gas & Electric, where he worked from 1972 until retirement in 2009. Bobby was the recipient of numerous “Pride in Performance” letters which were written by customers who wanted to express their appreciation for his patience, knowledge and expertise. Many of his family members, friends and neighbors also benefitted from his knowledge, expertise, and generosity; if there was ever a problem, he would eagerly lend a hand. He worked at SDG&E alongside his brother-in-law, James Arthur Murphy, who was more like a brother to Bobby. He also considered his brother-in-law Wayne Allison (“Uncle Buck”) to be a brother. Although married to his sisters, these men were among Bobby’s closest friends and
confidants. Likewise, sister-in-law Clara Phillips was, in fact, his “sister.” Bobby loved and shared truly special relationships with each of them. Bobby was a generous man who loved helping people. People loved being around Bobby; he was a genuinely cool dude. His nephews, cousins and “Potnas” would stop by his house on Saturdays to help him wash his cars and mow his lawn just to spend time with him. His sense of humor, quick wit, infectious laugh, and megawatt smile made every visit with him “a good time.” He was a father figure to many children in the community where he lived, and everybody knew not to step on his grass! For many years of their adolescent years, Bobby and Darlene took in Bobby’s younger brother George’s children, DeAndre and Michelle Phillips, whom they loved as their own children.
Always an athlete, Bobby played and coached softball for many years. He played for The Who? as well as Floyd Robinson, with his late cousin Frank and many of his closest friends. He was a car enthusiast (luxury and classic muscle cars), loved nice, properly ironed clothes, a heavily starched pant crease and all types of music. He valued his military experience, being the “Man of His House,” being a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-grandfather, his siblings, their significant others, and their children. He valued the appearance of sanity by his children (which, if you know his children, presented challenges which often led to fits of laughter).
Bobby was a trusted friend, a caring neighbor, steadfast provider, fierce protector, pillar of strength, and an incredible role model. He lived a life of service to his country, his church, his family, and his friends. In other words, Bobby made his parents proud.
Bobby is mourned by his loving wife of 54 years and 3 months, Darlene Phillips, along with the following:
Children: Subrina, Carl (Carrie Trevino-Phillips), and Stephannie Phillips. Grandchildren: Xavier Robert-Ree Greer (d) and Kalel Kenarsie-Damon Phillips. Great-grandchildren: Kali, Xavier Jr. and King Greer (and their mother Kayla Mack). Siblings: Dorothy Murphy (James Arthur) and Johnette Phillips (Wayne Allison). Sister-in-law Clara Phillips, brother-in-law Charles Huntington, and a host of extended family members, friends, fellow parishioners, and community members.
In recognition and honor of his siblings who predeceased him: Mary Alice Wilson, Vernella Jean Ceasar, Arthur and Otha Phillips (twins), Mary Ruth Garner, Bettie Ree Huntington, George and James Phillips (twins). We miss each of you so very much; you will forever remain in our hearts!