In Memory of Alan F. Phillips MD

Alan F. Phillips MD died peacefully surrounded by his family on 11 August 2008 from complications of a chronic illness. He remained the picture of grace and courage to his last moments.

Alan was born in China in 1920 of British parents. The family returned to England, and he grew up in Norfolk, where his father was the vicar at Great Plumstead. He attended boarding schools as a boy, but greatly enjoyed his visits in Norfolk where he developed a love of the sea, and farming from the local community. In 1938 he went to Cambridge (St. Catharine’s College) on scholarship to study physics. Beginning in 1941, after rejection as a pilot due to a heart murmur that was never detected in later examinations, he worked with the British military on the development of radar.

In 1945 he moved to Edinburgh to study medicine. He met Joyce Douglas, a psychiatric social worker in training. They married in 1949.

Alan and Joy returned to Cambridge in 1951 where he pursued basic research in the new field of radiation therapy, and subsequently clinical radiotherapy. They moved their young family to Western Canada in 1958, and to Flint, Michigan in 1962 where Alan practiced medicine as the first radiation oncologist in the region. He completed his career as an oncologist in Hamilton, Ontario.

Alan had many interests that he pursued with great energy. He was a gardener, sailor, avid reader and polymath; and he enjoyed sharing these pursuits with his family. Always practical, analytical and without pretension, he had excellent adventures and achievements in all of his endeavors, driven by a sense of fairness, generosity and justice.

In the early 1980’s he turned his attention to the misuse of radioactivity for military purposes. He became an activist, applying the same energy, rigorous thought and generosity to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. He supported the movement with carefully researched, thoughtful articles, speeches and policy proposals, working with local, national and international groups in the peace movement. He selflessly donated his thoughts, energy and considerable resources to the cause assisted by his wife Joy.

Donations in his memory may be made to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 727 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 USA, (617) 868-5050.