Culinary History Collection


Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Issue 5 Winter 2004

In Memoriam: Jean Phillips

Jo Anne Barton

Dr. Jean Allen Phillips was a member of the faculty in the Department of Human Nutrition and Foods at Virginia Tech from 1969 until her retirement in 1986. She taught hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Home Economics (now the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences). Her expertise was the physical and chemical properties of foods.

Dr. Phillips, a native of Tennessee, received B. S. and M. S. degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Ph.D. from Purdue University. A devoted educator, she taught high school home economics in West Virginia and Tennessee and taught foods courses at Purdue University and the University of Tennessee-Martin before coming to Virginia Tech. She also served as a dietician at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She married to Dr. Leonard J. Phillips, a family physician, in 1943. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1954.

Dr. Phillips was recognized as an outstanding teacher. She received the W. E. Wine Award, an award presented to two or three professors each year in recognition of outstanding teaching at Virginia Tech, in 1974. At Purdue, she was one of 6 Outstanding Professors featured in The Debris, the student yearbook.

Dr. Phillips assisted Dr. Gladys Vail with the 6th edition of the classic text Foods and was the principal author of the 7th and last edition of the book, which was published in 1978. The book received a Certificate of Excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Dr. Phillips also developed the lab manual which accompanies the textbook.

Dr. Phillips was also active in professional organizations--she was the first woman to serve as president of the Virginia Tech Chapter of Sigma Xi, a scientific honorary. She was an active member of the American and Virginia Home Economics associations and the American and Virginia Dietetic associations. She served on a liaison committee between the two associations at the national level. Among the many topics considered by the committee was the issue of conversion from the U.S. standards to the metric system of measurements. Dr. Phillips was invited to make several presentations about the conversion including one at the Food Editors' Conference. Gaynelle Hogan, a consumer education specialist with the Virginia Extension Service, remembers Jean as being very helpful in developing teaching materials regarding the metric system.

After retiring from Virginia Tech, Dr. Phillips moved to a retirement community in the Birmingham area to be near family. She continued to share extensive knowledge of foods in retirement as co-chair of a committee of residents at St. Martin's-in-the-Pines that developed a cookbook. The cookbook sold out in just a few weeks and the proceeds of the sale were used for an Alzheimers Unit at the retirement community.

The Peacock-Harper Culinary History Committee decided to honor Dr. Phillips for her many contributions by establishing an endowed scholarship in her name. The scholarship will be available to students who plan to pursue a research topic supported by materials in the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection.

Jean Allen Phillips died July 16, 2003.

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