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March 26, 1931 - May 9, 2023
In loving memory ~
On May 9, 2023, peacefully, and with his family by his side, Cecil "Mark" Phillips, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, ran his final lap and sang his closing chorus. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan on March 26, 1931, Mark grew up in the heart of the Great Depression, in a home filled with love and surrounded by music. Mark was the only child of parents Wilfred and Claire Phillips, both professional musicians, who passed on their love of music to Mark and future generations of the family.
Mark was predeceased by both parents and by his beloved wife Barbara in 2020. He is survived by his children Richard (Gisele) and Marilyn Koroll (Jeff), as well as grandchildren Jessica (Kurtis) Kris and Reid, great-grandchildren Griffin and Kit, sister-in-law Pat Dyck (Tony) and numerous cousins.
When Mark was ten years old the family moved to Vernon and settled behind the newly built Civic Arena on Pine Street, now 39th Avenue. It was there that he quite literally met the "girl next door". That girl, Barbara Swift, and Mark became fast friends, and the relationship grew over the years and blossomed into a love story that would last nearly seventy years. When Barb's family moved to Shuswap Falls, east of Lumby, Mark would first ride his bicycle, then later his 1930 Buick, to visit her on weekends. The two were inseparable. They married in 1953, and went on to share a wonderful life together.
It was also during his 39th Avenue years that Mark developed his athletic abilities. As an original Civic Arena "Rink Rat", he played hockey and lacrosse into his late teens. He participated in all school sports, but it was his ability on the athletics track that truly turned heads. In high school, Mark smashed records in the then 220 and 440 yard events, while also competing, and winning, numerous Long Jump, 100 yard and relay competitions. He was courted with Track scholarships by several American universities, but declined in favour of his real love, Barbara. Track and Field would remain a passion of his for the rest of his life, both as a coach and a fan.
After High School, Mark attended teacher training in Victoria, and with Barbara who joined him on the journey, began a long and distinguished teaching and administrative career. Jobs in Salmon Arm and Vernon led to a position as Principal of a school at the Emerald Mine, high up in the mountains near Nelson, B.C. It was here that Richard was born in 1957, and a life long love of the Kootenays began.
The growing family returned to Vernon in 1959, built a home overlooking Polson Park, next door to the family home at that time occupied by Mark's parents Wilf and Claire. In 1960, Mark's daughter, Marilyn was born. During this time, Mark began a long tenure at Charles Bloom Secondary School in Lumby, first as a teacher and ultimately as Vice-Principal. He loved his job and the energy he derived from his students and colleagues. He found his calling coaching track and field, and especially in directing numerous choirs, musicals and operettas. He also relished his role as leader of the school Band. In 1967, the family moved to Lumby where new friends and memories were made. In 1972, the family moved back to Vernon, and settled into another home built next door to the family home. He was appointed Principal of Hillview Elementary School before retiring in 1987.
Retirement was a glorious time for Mark and Barb. They witnessed the marriages of their two children, grandchildren became a new focus for love and attention, they moved into the family home and travelled extensively, returning to the Kootenays frequently to rekindle the adventure of the Emerald Mine years. For Mark, retirement meant he had the time and space to continue to grow as a musician. He sang in Barbershop Quartets and formed and directed his own group known as "The Marksmen". Mark was singing well into his 80's, and the happiness he derived from doing so was contagious. Mark lived a retirement longer than his thirty-five year teaching career, and he cherished every minute of it.
Mark was an honest, decent and loving man. He was an exceptional husband and father, and a friend who truly understood the meaning of the word. He lived a full life with a toe planted in every decade, and a happy tune always ringing in his ear. Our lives were brightened by his presence, his guidance, and his example of how to treat others. He will be profoundly missed by his family and friends.
Our family would like to thank all those who have helped with his care in his final days.
A "Celebration of His Life" will be held at a later date.

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