James Thomas Phillips


In Memory

James Thomas Phillips

April 4, 1893 ~ February 11, 1961

By Bobby Joe Seales

James Thomas Phillips, better known as Captain Tom, married Nellie Brannon, 1898-1993.
Their son, Frederick Funston Phillips, born January 20, 1917, died March 20, 2006,
married LaFrances Charles "Frances" Walker, born March 28, 1918, died December 13, 1998.
She was the daughter of former Shelby County Alabama Probate Judge
Leon Columbus "L.C." Walker, 1887-1976, and Pearle Nickerson, 1887-1963.

The Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, February 16, 1961

~ Funeral Services Held For Prominent Business Man ~

The many friends of J.T. Phillips in Shelby County were saddened by his death on February 11th at Alabaster. He had been in ill health for several months. Funeral services were held at Siluria Baptist Church on Monday, February 13th, conducted by the Reverend Nelson Bullard. Burial was in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham Ridout's Valley Chapel directing.

Mr. Phillips figured prominently in the industrial growth of Shelby County. He came to Siluria in 1927 from Kinston, North Carolina, as superintendent at Buck Creek Cotton Mills Company. He later acquired ownership of this mill which, under his direction grew to one of the leading textile mills of the state. He has been associated with his son, Fred F. Phillips, in Valley Mills at Columbiana, Alabama and in Starkville Mills at Starkville, Mississippi. The mill at Siluria became Siluria Mills, Inc., when it was sold in 1960 to J.W. Valentine Company at which time Mr. Phillips retired, though maintaining an office in Birmingham as Chairman of Board of Directors of Buck Creek Cotton Mills.

Mr. Phillips was elected to the state senate in 1950. During his term he was a leader in legislation for prison reform and in modernization of the prison textile mills.

At the time of his death, he was Vice-Chairman of the Shelby County Hospital Board and played an important part in bringing Shelby Memorial Hospital to Shelby County. He was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of the Board of Directors of Crippled Children's Clinic in Birmingham.

Surviving are his wife, his son, Fred F. Phillips of Siluria, two grandsons and four sisters: Mrs. N. Wilson, Lowell, N.C.; Mrs. Dell Pennington, Gastonia, N.C.; Mrs. Effie Baker and Mrs. Eula Hornsby, both of Chester, S.C.."

In Memory
January 20, 1917 ~ March 20, 2006

Fred F. Phillips, 89, of Siluria, AL, passed away March 20, 2006 at Shelby Baptist Hospital in Alabaster, AL. He is preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Frances Walker Phillips and a son, Frederick F. Phillips, Jr. His parents were the late Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Phillips of Siluria, AL. Survivors include sons, Tom Phillips of Birmingham, AL and David Phillips of Alabaster, AL; grandchildren, Frederick Scott Phillips of Birmingham, AL, Carol Frances Phillips Fails of Nashville, TN, Helen Phillips Dean of Chelsea, AL, and John Phillips of Chelsea, AL; and great grandchildren, Hannah Dean of Chelsea, AL and Eli and Garth Fails of Nashville, TN. Mr. Phillips was a graduate of the Darlington School of Rome Ga., The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga. and spent most of his career in the textile manufacturing industry. He was President and later Chairman of Buck Creek Cotton Mills from 1939 until 1973 when the mills were all sold under the name of Buck Creek Industries, Inc. Mr. Phillips father, Senator J.T. Phillips moved his family from Gastonia, N.C. to Siluria, AL in 1928 when he took over the management of the Buck Creek Cotton Mills for the Thompson family and by 1938 became its owner and was active in the business until his death in 1961. Buck Creek Cotton Mills was an industry leader in napped cotton flannels and in later years was known for making rugs and carpets and supplies for the carpet industry. Mr. Phillips established his own sales offices in New York City for the mills and created one of the first distribution centers in Dalton, Ga. for supplies of yarns and cotton backings to the carpet industry. Fred Phillips grew this business from one mill in 1960 to 9 mills and over 1000 employees at its peak and the family sold the business to the Sperry and Hutchinson Co. in 1973. Mr. Phillips built Valley Mills in Columbiana, AL in 1947 which acted as one the leading plants of the Buck Creek chain of mills. In his early career, he was active in the Young Presidents Association, was President one year of the Alabama Textile Manufacturers Association, was active in the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association and the Tufted Textile Manufacturers Association later known as the Carpet and Rug Institute. After his retirement from the textile industry, Mr. Phillips acted as an investment counselor and was a stock broker in Birmingham Alabama associated with Calton and Associates of Tampa, FL for many years. Mr. Phillips was active in the Atlanta Athletic Club and the Cherokee Club of Atlanta, Ga. and was once active in the Vestavia Country Club and The Club in Birmingham, AL. Mr. Phillips was a lifetime supporter of The Eye Foundation Hospital, The Darlington School, and The Siluria Baptist Church. He and his father were active supporters of the Masons, The Shriners, Thompson High School, and various charities in the Birmingham area. In recent years Mr. Phillips was active in the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club and The Siluria Baptist Church who are both acting as honorary pallbearers. His family requests any memorials be made to the Siluria Baptist Church of Alabaster, AL or The Darlington School of Rome, Ga. The services will be held at the Southern Heritage Funeral Home with viewing from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, and a service at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 23, with interment at Elmwood Cemetery immediately following the service. Published in The Birmingham News on 3/22/2006.