William Maurice (Bill) Phillips died December 2, 2018 at the age of 95. He was born December 4, 1922 at Newton, Kansas, the youngest of five children of S. Clayton and Minnie (Vesper) Phillips. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers and one sister, infant son Stanley Glenn and daughter Carol Jean Frye. Survivors include his wife Doris of the home, children Bob and Roya Phillips, Fullerton, CA, Don and Becky Phillips, Alexandria, VA, Roger and Sue Phillips, Rio Rancho, NM, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Both Bill and Doris were involved in many of their children’s activities including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and church activities. Bill grew up on farms in Harvey County, Kansas. His primary schooling was in a one room rural school where he was often the only student in his grade. Beginning with the ninth grade he attended Newton High School where he graduated in 1940. He enrolled in Kansas State College (now University) in the fall of 1940. After completing two years of college he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in November 1942.
Following basic training he was assigned to Bombsight and Automatic Pilot Training School located at Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado. After completing the course, he became part of the original cadre of the 745th Bomb Squadron, 456th Bomb Group, 15th Army Air Forces. Most of the state-side training was at Muroc, California (near the site of the present Edwards Air Force Base). Late in 1943 the unit, which flew B-24 bombers, was sent to Italy. The squadron remained on the same field, located near Cerignola, until July 5, 1945. Bombing missions were flown to various targets in southern Europe and Germany. As a member of the ground crew, Bill was not involved in combat missions. He was in charge of bombsight and automatic pilot service and maintenance on the squadron’s B-24 bombers. He reached the rank of Technical Sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star medal. He returned to the U.S. in August 1945 and was honorably discharged.
After spending a short time with his parents in Harvey County Kansas, he returned to Manhattan to look for employment. (All classes at the University had already started.) When applying for a job at the Kansas Crop Improvement Association he met Doris Mead, Office Manager for the Association. He and Doris were married April 18, 1946. Following a few months’ work, Bill enrolled at the University for the 1946 spring semester. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1947, enrolled in Graduate School and received his Master of Science degree in 1949. On February 1, 1948 he began working for the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was located at the Fort Hays Branch, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Kansas State University, Hays, Kansas, as a cooperative State-Federal employee doing research on methods of controlling weeds in field crops. This began a long career in weed control research that, except for a 10-month assignment on a brush control project at Spur, Texas, was spent at the experiment station at Hays. Because of a reduction in force of federal employees, Bill left federal service in 1973 and was employed by Kansas State University. His research was only slightly affected by this change.
In July 1976 he became Head of the Fort Hays Experiment Station and remained in that position until he retired in January 1985 with the academic rank of professor. During his career and following his retirement, Bill was recognized and honored for several achievements in weed control research and for developing improved farming practices using those research findings. His pioneering work in conservation tillage practices and weed control strategies in a winter wheat-grain sorghum-fallow cropping system for the Great Plains led to wide-spread acceptance of this farming system. This and other research was documented by many technical and popular publications and presentations. He was a member or past member of several professional and honorary scientific organizations including the Weed Science Society of America, North Central Weed Science Society, American Society of Agronomy, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Alpha Zeta.
In 2001 he wrote the 100-year history of the Agricultural Research Center-Hays (formerly called the Fort Hays Experiment Station). The history, published by Kansas State University, was presented as part of the Center’s Centennial Celebration.
When Bill retired in January 1985 he and Doris moved to Manhattan where they enjoyed university, church, and community activities. They traveled extensively, both to visit family and to tour other parts of the world. They celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary April 18, 2018. Both Bill and Doris were active in the Presbyterian Church. Bill was a ruling elder for many years in the church in Hays and served as Trustee, church treasurer, and on many church committees.
A memorial service celebrating Bill’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan with Rev. R.C. McConnell officiating. The family suggests that those who desire to memorialize Bill do so with gifts to the Music Guild Endowment Fund – First Presbyterian Church or a charity of their choice. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.
Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at www.ymlfuneralhome.com