UNL couple completes lifetime of giving

UNL couple completes lifetime of giving

07 Oct 2014     By Brad Stauffer

Their married life was spent in the Washington, D.C. area where John Phillips worked his entire career as a U.S. Navy ordnance engineer. However John and Lorraine Phillips never lost their love of Nebraska and their alma mater. They met at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and when it came time to make estate plans, they remembered the place that brought them together. A place where they forged lifelong friendships. A place that provided a foundation for their life together.

John was a mechanical engineering graduate (1931) and Lorraine earned her degree in home economics (1934). Working with the University of Nebraska Foundation, generous gifts to the College of Engineering and the College of Education and Human Sciences were designated to support student scholarships.

The University of Nebraska was more than just their alma mater. It was a focal point in their lives, as was the state itself. If there was one state in the union that the family was primarily connected to it was Nebraska.

old photo of phillips brideIn 1934, during her senior year at Nebraska, Lorraine’s fellow home economics students elected her “Goddess of Agriculture.” Her float led the parade at the Farmers’ Fair, a popular tradition of the College of Agriculture from 1916 until 1959.

Memories such as this endeared UNL to the Phillips’ family. A granddaughter once drew a picture of Lorraine as the Goddess of Agriculture.

According to Lorraine’s daughter, Martha Phillips Patrick, Lorraine had a life-long interest in textiles, fashion, music and art. Lorraine’s mother was an accomplished seamstress and milliner and a gifted artist, so it was natural that Lorraine was drawn to home economics. Following graduation in 1934, she taught music and home economics for two years in Nebraska high schools before marrying and moving to Washington.

In Washington, Lorraine gave freely of her time and talents to local and national organizations. She was active in the American Home Economics Association (forerunner of today's American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences), the American Association of University Women, the National Symphony and her Methodist church. In their retirements, both John and Lorraine served as docents at the Smithsonian Institute -- she in the Textiles Lab and he at the Air and Space Museum.

Lorraine enjoyed community work and happily accepted leadership positions in her organizations and was confident in those roles -- a tribute to both her up bringing and to her education, said her daughter. “The idea of giving back was always an integral part of who she was. It wasn't just a responsibility but also a real source of joy and pride for her to be able to do it.”

Phillips Patrick speculated that both the Depression and then World War II had instilled in women of her mother's generation a sense of civic responsibility that emphasized the importance of pitching in, of saving, of sacrificing and of giving, as well as taking care of one’s own family. “My parents lived comfortably and always below their means, so they could afford to be generous to others, both in life and in death.”

Education has always been valued in the family. In keeping with that commitment, John and Lorraine wanted a portion of their estate to be used to help deserving students who worked hard in high school and who would value and utilize the opportunity to further their education at UNL.

CEHS is sincerely grateful for the legacy John and Lorrie Phillips established with UNL and CEHS. For more information about supporting the College of Education and Human Sciences through the University of Nebraska Foundation, please contact Jane Heany at jheany@nufoundation.org or 402-458-1177.

College of Education and Human Sciences