With deep sorrow, we announce the passing of Dr. Raymond Earle Phillips. He died, surrounded by loved ones, on the 14th of July at Westchester Medical Center after a valiant struggle following complications of surgery.
Everybody seeing this will have their own distinct memory of Ray. He was funny, full of life, a world traveler, an accomplished doctor and author. He is survived by three children, eight grandchildren, and many, many friends all over the world.
Ray was born on October 2nd, 1930, in Dighton, Massachusetts, the middle of three rambunctious brothers, and grew up in nearby Taunton. He left home on a music scholarship to play trombone at Valley Forge Military Academy and matriculated from there to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and then to Yale Medical School, from which he graduated in 1956.
As a doctor, his pursuits were truly far-flung. He served in the United States Air Force where he provided physiologic testing for high altitude pilots, many of whom manned the Apollo missions of the 1960s. He trained in medicine at Johns Hopkins University and then New York Presbyterian Hospital after which he joined the practice of his father-in-law, Louis M. D’Esopo, M.D., at Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown (now Sleepy Hollow) where he helped establish the continuing medical education (CME) program and the intensive care unit (ICU). In addition to three other medical books and numerous articles, he authored The Cardiac Rhythms (W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia), which became part of the canon of nursing and cardiologic education around the world. He was a founder and director of the Peripheral Vascular Clinic in New York City and of Medical Exchange International (MEI), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide training, access, and medical supplies to the underserved of the world and which took him to clinics and schools in Ecuador, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, and Sudan among many other destinations. Always eager to teach, he inspired medical students at New York Medical College (Westchester Medical Center) and Women’s Medical College in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He continued to see patients into the last year of his life, most particularly at the Rockland County Department of Health Tuberculosis Program. His love for the Hudson River and for the study of history led him to write The River Quintet, a set of novels that begin with a Mohawk boy journeying from the headwaters of the Hudson to the sea at the time of the Age of Exploration. The books are now available on Amazon under his own imprint of Quill Publications.
He married Ann D’Esopo in 1956 while both were working at Yale. The couple had three children: Wendy Phillips Kahn, Andrew Phillips (Brenda Koenig), and John Phillips (Kate Phillips). Later he became a devoted grandfather to Samuel Kahn, Julia Kahn (Himanshu Agrawal), Michael Phillips (Sahra Mirbabaee), Sophie Seypura (Patrick Seypura), Juliette Phillips, Corbin Phillips, Jonas Phillips, and Sage Phillips. The marriage ended in divorce but they remained good friends.
Ray lived most of his adult life in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, New York, and his last years in Kent Lakes, New York, in a house that perfectly expressed his personality – close to nature, a little wild but peaceful enough for reflection, an elegantly simple design enlivened with quirky mementos of his interests and travels. He had a bottomless fount of jokes and an equally dizzying array of interests, including a profound appreciation for music and endless enthusiasm for sailing. His homes were always open-door to friends from many backgrounds and walks of life. He was always very much himself, with a whimsical, distinctive outlook on the world.
He kept astonishingly active until he was hospitalized in April. For his 80th birthday, he hiked Breakneck Mountain. At 85, he traveled to Nepal for Medical Exchange International. Just after he turned 90, the last of his medical textbooks came out, and in June 2021 a letter of his was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He was a gentle, generous soul, playful, thoughtful, a loving father, grandfather, and friend.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Medical Exchange International, continuing his work in Nepal. (Checks to Medical Exchange International can be sent c/o Wendy Kahn, 63 Benedict Ave., Tarrytown, NY 10591.)
A memorial will be held on Zoom on Saturday, July 24 at 11 a.m., using this link:
Meeting ID: 844 4765 1603
For further information, please contact Wendy Phillips Kahn at email@example.com
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