The Rev. Joshua D. Phillips, once an orphan who spent his life parenting those in need of unconditional love, including some of Portland's most prominent ministers and community leaders - died Nov. 3, 2008. He was 84.
Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 at Life Change Christian Center, 3635 N Williams Ave, Portland. Burial will follow at Skyline Memorial Gardens, 4101 NW Skyline Blvd. in Beaverton.
Rev. Phillips was born in Ohio on June 15, 1924 and was raised by his extended family after his mother died during childbirth. He moved to Sherwood, Ore., after marrying his second wife, Dr. Virginia Mitchell, in 1978. They promptly founded Give Us This Day, Inc., a family counseling, adoption and social service agency in Newberg, which helped serve, feed and clothe hundreds of needy families every year.
Rev. Phillips and Dr. Mitchell-Phillips spent three decades building community, pastoring churches, creating social service agencies and opening their home as a haven for the broken-hearted. Together, they served as marital counselors, and racial and religious bridge builders in towns throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and Idaho.
An expert in building strong families, Rev. Phillips was the first Oregon chair of the national One Church, One Child program, which encourages the religious community to help recruit adoptive parents for children in foster care. In the 80s and 90s, Oregon led the nation in the number of bi-racial and trans-racial adoptions, yet few of the adoption agencies knew how to bond cross-culturally.
So under Phillips' leadership, the state doubled the percentage of Black children in foster care being placed into permanent homes. Later, he and his wife were the first Black couple in Oregon to adopt a Korean child who was not bi-racial.
In the 80s, Rev. Phillips and his wife also opened Oregon's first state-sanctioned group home for African American girls, in Northeast Portland.
Over the years, Rev. Phillips served as a pastor of two Northeast Portland churches, Piedmont Friends Church, under the late Rev. Aaron Hamlin, and Maranatha Church, after Rev. Phillips' daughter and son-in-law, John and Yvonne Garlington, were both killed in a car accident in Florida in 1986.
Although Rev. Phillips had no biological children of his own, he was a father to so many men and women who had been rejected, abandoned, hurt and abused by their own fathers. Many lovingly called him "Poppa." At one time, he and his wife authored a column in The Skanner newspaper, called "Ask The Phillips," which would answer parenting questions.
Rev. Phillips is survived by his wife, Virginia, of Sherwood; sons, Greg, Ron, Brian, Kenneth; daughters Cathy, Linda, Sharon Renee, Kim, Jennifer and Veda; grandchildren, John Jr., Gayle, Tina, Matt and Mark Garlington; and more than 40 other grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his first wife of 32 years, Ruby; daughter and son-in-law Yvonne and John Garlington; and son, Emery of Ohio.
Memorial contributions may be made to WoMen of Purpose, P.O. Box 596, Newberg, OR 97132 Office. For information, call 503-537-1907 or e-mail: [email protected].