James Stewart Philips


March 27, 1944  –  July 19, 2022


image of James Stewart Philips

James Stewart Philips

James Stewart Philips, of Kirkland, WA passed away on July 19, 2022 at the age of 78.

James was born March 27 1944 in Edinburgh Scotland.  He emigrated to the United States with his parents and sisters in 1955 and settled in Seattle WA.

James (known to some as “Scotty”) graduated from Ballard High School in 1961.  He served as a radioman in the USAF from 1962 to 1966.  He married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Mikki, in October 1965.  They had 2 daughters, Meredith and Kristin.

James began his career driving for Garrett Freight Lines after a brief stint in the Seattle Police Department.  He was a proud Teamster and retired from Boeing.

James was first and foremost a family man.  His pride in his wife and daughters was palpable.  He was always ready to pitch in on a DIY project.  James gladly served in many callings in the LDS church and greatly enjoyed travel and soccer.  He was an avid reader and gregarious to a fault.  Dementia took him from us far too soon.  He will be dearly missed.

James is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mikki; sisters Wilma and Elizabeth (Carol); his daughters Meredith (Devin) and Kristin; and grandsons Stewart (Allison), Ian (Easlyn) and Colin.

In lieu of flowers, memorials or donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association of Western Washington.

Thoughts from his daughter, Meredith:

There are a lot of things I’m going to miss about Dad.  His easy smile.  His infectious laugh.  His ability to engage people in small talk …anytime …anyplace… for hours.  His fierce devotion and loyalty to his family.  These are all memorable traits…but I think the thing I will miss most about Dad are his hands.

As I child, I remember Dad’s hands as strong and work-worn.  They were rough and scratchy…and seemed to have dirt and grease permanently embedded under the nails…but they were always warm.  In fact, now that I think about it, his hands reflected who he was as a person…strong and work-worn; a bit rough, but always warm.

When I think back to the one thing that epitomizes our relationship, it’s his hands that I will remember.

Him laying his heavy hands upon my freshly shampooed, still damp hair to give me a Father’s Blessing the night before a new school year started.

Me sitting on one of his hands, balancing precariously as he lifted me high up over his head.

His hands securely on my lower back as he would push me so high on a swing that he would run under me (what we appropriately called a “run thru”).

Him enfolding my freezing cold hands in his, then slipping them into his coat pockets to keep them warm as we walked from house to house on cold Pacific Northwest Halloween nights.

Hands that would be raised high above his head as he came into a room of slumber party girls watching the latest slasher film while bellowing his infamous “scary laugh”.

The hands that flipped a million pancakes to be served to those same slumber party girls the next morning.

His hand reaching for the phone receiver every night at precisely 11pm when Papa would call to “check in” before Dad went to his graveyard shift.

His hands clapping for me at every dance recital, every gymnastics meet, every scientific paper presentation, every important moment (whether he was in attendance or not, I could always feel his applause).

His rough hands scratching my skin as he tenderly rubbed my back while I was trying to get to sleep during my seventh bout of strep throat in one year.

One hand reaching out from under a car in the garage where I was expected to supply the proper 3/8” socket or torque wrench with the precision of a surgical room nurse.

His hands reaching up to catch me when I had climbed too high in my grandfather’s cherry tree and the only way down was to jump. (I had such faith in those hands that I would have jumped from any height without a doubt that they would bring me safely back down to earth…and did so on several occasions).

Those hands that securely cinched down each strap of my life vest when I was half asleep as we readied ourselves for an early morning salmon fishing expedition.

His hands splayed out, fingers wide, as he demonstrated how to “make yourself big” while playing goalie.

Those hands that could pack a car trunk with a stack of suitcases in a way that would put a Tetris master to shame.

His hands holding mine as he pulled me onto his toes to teach me how to dance as he would whisper, “dee da dee da dee” in my ear.

The hands that held tight to my sister’s and mine as we ran with him from our seats in the Kingdome, down each ramp, and into the parking lot after every Sounders home game.

The hands that would gently scoop us out of the car after driving home from Nana and Papa’s at night and carefully deposit us in bed (whether we were actually asleep or faking it).

His hand opening a door and holding it for others to pass through (a gentlemanly habit so ingrained into his person that he continued to do it even during his years of dementia).

The hand that grabbed my white knuckled fist on a roller coaster bar and made me more brave than I would have ever been on my own.

The hand that he slipped into Mom’s during those stolen, intimate moments when he didn’t think we were watching (we were…we saw).

His hands that gently kneaded and rolled out batch after batch of Christmas rolls for friends and neighbors; the same hands that later taught me how to twist the dough and form the perfect knot.

The hand that grabbed mine and tucked it securely in the crook of his arm as he prepared to walk me down the aisle and “give me away”.

His hands that looked so huge as they held his tiny grandsons for the first time, and the many times after that when he laid them on his chest, and slowly “cozied” them to sleep (even when I couldn’t for the life of me get them to sleep…Dad truly had a gift).

His hands that assembled a bunch of bikes on Christmas Eve for kids whose family were struggling to be able to provide any kind of Christmas for their little ones that year.

His hands donning white gloves, buckling the black belt on the red suit, and lovingly lifting little ones to his knee as he played Santa at a local Christmas party.

The hands that spoke his love language, “acts of service”, which he performed for his family, his friends, and total strangers. (When his hands were holding an oil filter, or a hammer, or wire strippers, Dad was actually saying, “I love you”.)

This big bear of a man, with hands to match, meant everything to me.  Thanks, Dad.  You were a beautiful soul, and have left me with a collection of beautiful memories. Love you always and forever.

From his daughter Kristin:

It’s hard to collect my thoughts about my father – he was a multifaceted kind of guy.

Dad loved and valued his family more than anything.

Dad was a man of his word – if he said he’d do it, consider it done.

He taught me trust by trusting me.

He taught me the offsides rule for soccer, and would regularly embarrass us at soccer matches (that  referee unquestionably needed glasses.

Dad taught me to love learning and to value education.

He taught me the value of hard work, but once you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock.  (Speaking of the value of work, he also taught me to never cross a picket line.  Solidarity!)

He and Mom helped model the kind of relationship I’d want to have with a partner – tolerance, cooperation, compromise… even when they fought, they fought ‘fair’.  He taught me the value of a sincere apology (and of ‘yes, dear’).

Dad taught me to love reading.  (Dad tag-teaming with my maternal grandmother to start me reading The Hobbit at an impressionable age guaranteed my future as a nerd – thanks, old man.)

He was proud of his Scottish heritage, and a proud American citizen.  (The judge kept him longer than expected for his citizenship exam because he wanted to stump him.  It took a while.)

He always believed in me, even when I didn’t.

He taught me to believe there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do – and to never give up.

He taught me how to make Christmas rolls, even the fiddly coiling bit.

He taught me to stand up for myself, and for others.

Dad taught me to never take myself too seriously.

He wasn’t overburdened with patience, but still managed to teach my sister to drive and me my times tables without killing either of us, so that’s a win.  (4×9 is 36.)

Dad was a living Thomas guide.  Before I had Google Maps, I had “Directions Man” (even if he did once try to use landmarks that predated my birth).

Dad could start a conversation with a rock – and the rock would wind up enjoying it.

He taught me to be self-sufficient, while showing me it wasn’t weakness to ask for help when you needed it.

I pulled out my notes for a talk in church to find across the top, in Dad’s distinctive block printing, “You’ll do great.  Just take a deep breath and remember to enunciate.  Love, Dad.”  That’s how he was.

He taught me to make minor household and automotive repairs – as well as the appropriate vocabulary to use while doing so.

We were far too similar to avoid butting heads, but we always loved each other… and even better, we LIKED each other.  He was unquestionably my biggest fan and most stalwart cheerleader.

I remember once, when I was probably about six and wanted to jump off the high dive, I froze once I got to the top…. until I saw Dad. Treading water in the deep end, arms out, ready to catch me.

I jumped.

That pretty much sums up our relationship.

Dad was no candidate for sainthood, but he was a good, good man.  I’ll love and miss him forever.

Thanks for letting me jump, Sir – and helping me believe I could fly.

7 Responses to “James Stewart Philips”

  • Margaret philips says:

    James was always very kind to me he always took the time to talk to me even though I seem to be the black sheep and my family I’ll miss him I I did see him once up at the rest home but I don’t believe he recognized who I was but I held his hand for about a 1/2 hour 45 minutes and then gave him a hug and left

  • Maralyn Belgique says:

    Paula, Merideth, Kristin,
    I love the card and remembrances of James. What a special person. Thank you for sharing these both. Maralyn

  • Barry and Beverly Fisher says:

    We loved the Obituary and Memorial that was mailed to us. THANK YOU SO MUCH! We send our condolences and sympathy. James was a laugh a minute and very thoughtful. We have missed him for a few years already and will miss him forever. May the Lord send you blessings and peace!

  • Wayne Gwaltney says:

    I am Jim and Mikki’s next door neighbor and have been for 55 years. We are the two original families in our neighborhood. I appreciate Jim and his family. After 55 years and still no problem with my neighbor. Jim was a great neighbor and friend.

  • George Boswell says:

    I was so sorry to hear about your loss and my sympathy and prayers go out to all of you. Please give my best to your family.

  • Bev and Barry Fisher says:

    We loved the Obituary and Memorial that was mailed to us. THANK YOU SO MUCH! We send our condolences and sympathy. James was a laugh a minute and very thoughtful. We have missed him for a few years already and will miss him forever. May the Lord send you blessings and peace!

  • Sheri (Boswell) Blanchard says:

    Mikki, Kristin and Meredith,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. You have my condolences. What wonderful tributes you wrote for your dad! Sending hugs and prayers your way.

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