Jimmie Lillian "Pinkie" Watts Phillips died on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at the John F. Keever Solace Center in Asheville after a long illness.
She is survived by her husband, Ron Phillips, of Asheville; a daughter, Mary Paige Dukes (Jon), of Greenville, KY; and two step-children, Kristen (Todd), of Jackson, MS, and Breck Phillips, of Brentwood, TN. Her grandchildren include Courtney and Carson Kern, of Jackson, and James, Austin, and Katlyn Dukes, of Greenville.
Jimmie was born on July 13, 1951 in Hattiesburg, MS. She was preceded in death by her parents, James and Lillian Risher Watts, of Hattiesburg, and grandparents, Howard and Virginia Watts and Edward and Zola Lillian Blake, all of Hattiesburg.
Jimmie attended Hattiesburg Public Schools and worked in the family business, Hattiesburg Propane. She received three degrees in education from the University of Southern Mississippi. Her Ph.D. thesis involved the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities, Specializing in Special Education for the severely disabled. Her prior teaching included Gulfport Public Schools and Biloxi Public Schools. She returned to USM and worked in the Business Office and the Special Education Department while pursuing her Ph.D. Upon graduation, she made several trips to the Western States and Alaska where after a maritime strike, she famously drove back through the Yukon to get home. Jimmie became a Professor at the University of New Orleans where she excelled in writing grants and advocating for inclusion for the disabled.
Jimmie was a traveler but had a particular interest in Switzerland where she visited many times. She was an avid reader, a photographer, a lover of animals and enjoyed the company of her bible study group at Central United Methodist Church, in Asheville. She enjoyed beauty and fashion and supported the industry well. Jimmie endured leukemia for over 20 years and had other medical complications resulting in her demise.
Upon her retirement from UNO, Jimmie and Ron moved to the mountains where they enjoyed hiking to waterfalls and exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their mountain home provided her much solace during her last years.
She is remembered by family and friends as the perfect host who loved to entertain. Special care was given to her by Rissie Alexander and Gloria Keplinger, as well as many doctors and healthcare professionals in the Asheville area. Special thanks to Dr. Lisa Bond of Hattiesburg who helped her with friendship and medical care.
Services will be held at Moore Funeral Home in Hattiesburg on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. Interment will take place in Highland Cemetery.
Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family locally.