Rodney V. Phillips, Class of 1935, B.A. Business, passed away last March at 98 ½ years of age. He was a link back to the very first years of Highlands. His mother, Mattie, was a member of Normal University’s [Highlands’ original name] first graduating class in 1907, receiving her degree in pedagogy. She was the sister of S. Omar Barker, Highlands graduate in 1912 with a B.A. in pedagogy and writing. Omar would go on to become a noted writer and poet.
Rodney will always be remembered as a kind, generous and thoughtful man, a poet, and punster with a great sense of humor. His daughter, Rusti, recounts a story about his being asked by a neighbor how he was feeling. He replied that his left leg had been bothering him. The neighbor said it must be just part of getting old. His response was ‘I don’t think so – the other leg is just as old.’ ”
Rodney would attend homecomings when he could. He was recognized as an alumni spirit award winner at the 2006 alumni banquet. He and his mother wrote a book entitled “Back to My Mountains” that told of their family living up in Gallinas Canyon in the years before the turn of the 20th century. Indeed he was a kind, polite and generous man who will be missed by his Highlands’ friends.