Evansville says goodbye to a friend and community servant
Before the Rev. Randy Krause spoke about God’s grace, before Evansville Police Chief Scott McElroy got choked up speaking about his friend and colleague, and even before “How Great Thou Art,” the contributions of Art Phillips life were plain to see.
Phillips, 46, of Evansville, died Tuesday at home.
He left behind his wife of 25 years and a life committed to his hometown.
His funeral, held at the Evansville High School Performing Arts Center, was filled with school board and county board members, his friends from Masonic Lodge and more than 100 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, EMS workers, state troopers and Depart
ment of Natural Resources wardens.
The remaining seats in the 600-plus seat auditorium were filled with community members.
“Look around you,” Krause said. “Just take a look at the lives Art touched. That is the message; that is the message right there.”
Phillips’ record of community service began in 1982 when he started as a part-time police officer at the Evansville Police Department. He was hired as a full-time officer in 1984 and was promoted to sergeant in 1990 and lieutenant in 1998.
Along with his work at the department, Phillips was involved with the emergency medical services for 20 years and belonged to the fire department for 10 years.
He also served on the Evansville School Board and the Rock County Board.
But it was clear from the turnout at his funeral that Phillips was more than a run-of-the-mill elected official or a 9-to-5 cop.
In an emotional speech, McElroy described Phillips as “a good guy, a great colleague and a good friend.”
Once, when McElroy had gone north to go camping, Phillips called him to tell him about a storm that had come through Evansville, knocking down trees and wires. A tree fell on a fence at McElroy’s home.
“He said to me ‘I’m at your house right now and the cattle are between me and the house. What do you want me to do?’” McElroy said.
“I didn’t ask Art to go out there; I didn’t have to because that’s the kind of guy he was.”
For one of the readings, Krause picked the passage in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus exhorts his followers to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Look at how one life radiated out and touched a community, a county and even a state,” Krause said. “If anyone loved his neighbor, it was Art.”