David Thomas Phillips was born at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Lewistown, Montana on Good Friday, March 22, l940, to Helen (Munski) and David Phillips. Thomas was their first born, and was followed by his brother Dwight, sister Margaret...then his youngest brother Duane was born on Tom’s 9th birthday…they had such special birthdays celebrating together every year.
Tom’s Mom was a teacher and over the years he attended the schools where she taught and also went to public schools. As the younger siblings grew up they also attended their Mom’s schools. Back in the small one room schools, there were times when all 4 of the kids would be in Helen’s class at the same time. Since Tom was the oldest, and Helen often had to go to summer school, Tom helped his Dad raise his siblings. He became a good cook because of those times.
The family belonged to Catholic Church in Hilger. At that time, the priest traveled to do mass at other churches in the area, however, he didn’t drive, so Tom would drive him to the churches and was a traveling Alter boy for his high school years.
Tom was in the 4th grade when he moved to Fairfield the first time. Tom’s Dad ran GTA Elevators around the state over the years and they did move a lot. They lived in Havre and Chinook, then back to Hilger.
Tom graduated from Fergus High School in Lewistown in l958 and a few months later he went into the Army. He was active for 6 months and would serve for the next 6 in the Army Reserves. He was very proud of his time in the service and that he was able to serve his country.
When Tom returned from the Army he moved to Belt and ran the elevator there…following in is Dad’s footsteps. A few months after moving to Belt, he met Elaine, and they were married on May 28, l960. Cory was born the next year and 6 years later they adopted their daughter Leanne.
In 1966 he moved to Fairfield for the 2nd time. Tom and Elaine raised their family on their farm south of town. He farmed and raised cows for the next 23 years.
In l990, God was calling them to take a new adventure, to move somewhere new and make more friends. They moved to Vida and continued farming there for l2 years. By then, Tom was having some health issues, and decided to move back to Hilger, where they bought a few acres and lived for l7 years. The little towns of Vida and Hilger have amazing people who were so kind and loving to them.
Tom raised cows wherever we lived. He was a true farmer and rancher. He loved classic cars, riding motorcycles and collecting toy tractors.
Tom was an FFA member in high school and then became a member of the Fairfield FFA Alumni, he enjoyed the time he spent with the local chapter, he even had the opportunity to chaperone the kids on one of their national convention trips. His grandsons were also Fairfield FFA members.
In August of 20l9, Tom and Elaine moved back to Fairfield (third time)… this was a big adjustment to move from the country to town after living on a farm for most of his life. It was a blessing to move back to be close to their kids, grands, and great grands.
He had Pulmonary Fibrosis, suffered 3 heart attacks over the years, and was a diabetic for 32 years. His health never took him down until his last few months.
Tom and Elaine celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2020.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents David and Helen, and his brother Duane.
He is survived by his wife Elaine, son Cory (Lois) Phillips – Great Falls, Leanne (Greg) Hall – Great Falls, grandsons Lonnie (Kim) Lattin – Fairfield, Lane (Terra) Lattin, Spokane, WA, Zachary (Casey) Phillips – Great Falls, granddaughter Sammy (Mike) Williams, Grand Rapids, Iowa as well as 8 great-grandchildren.
Donations may be offered to the Fairfield FFA Chapter.
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