W. Keith Phillips, Jr, age 100, former Mayor of Coral Gables, passed away on April 29, 2022, at the East Ridge Village Retirement Community in Cutler Bay. He was born on September 9, 1921, in Paris, Kentucky, the son of Willard Keith Phillips, Sr. and Marguerite Douglass Phillips. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 73 years, Mary Louise Grassmuck Phillips, his brothers, Marion Keith Phillips and Douglass Martin Phillips, and his sister Betty Phillips Jamieson. He is survived by his son, W. Keith Phillips III and his wife Angela Menezes Phillips of Miami, and his daughter Patricia Phillips Alden (Mrs. Michael) of Flat Rock, NC. He is also survived by grandchildren Andrea Phillips Tinder and her husband David, of Davie, FL, and Erica Phillips of Miami, great-grandchildren Colin and Riley Tinder of Davie, and many nieces and nephews
Keith’s family lived in Atlanta and moved to Miami and later Coral Gables after the 1926 hurricane. He graduated from Ponce de Leon Sr. High School and attended the University of Miami where he was President of his Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Classes, a colonizing member of the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter, and member of Iron Arrow honorary. He received his BBA from the University of Miami in 1942, and married Mary Lou, the love of his life, before being sent to the Pacific as a Second Lieutenant during World War II.
Upon his return from the war, he began a forty-year career as an insurance executive culminating in establishing his own independent insurance agency, Keith Phillips Jr. and Associates. His commitment to service to his community led him to pursue politics and he served as Commissioner in the Gables for eight years and as Mayor from 1971-1972. One of his signature accomplishments as Mayor was securing ownership of the former Biltmore Hotel and then-abandoned Veteran’s Hospital from the federal government for the citizens of Coral Gables. It was subsequently restored as the now luxurious Biltmore Hotel and Resort. He was also involved in many charitable, civic and philanthropic organizations including the Rotary Club of Coral Gables, and served as President of the local Crippled Children’s Society (later Easter Seals), the U of Miami Alumni Association and the Orange Bowl Committee. Phillips Park in Coral Gables was dedicated to him and his father in recognition of their service to the city.
He and Mary Lou relocated to St. Petersburg, FL, in 1983, and enjoyed their summers in Burnsville, NC, and their extensive travels throughout the US and Western Europe until returning to Miami in 2008, to reside at East Ridge, reconnect with local family and old friends and enjoy retirement. Keith’s amiable nature made him a favorite among the retirement village staff and his personal caregivers.
Private services were held.