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1955 Steve 2024

Stephen Oran "Steve" Phillips

September 12, 1955 — February 27, 2024

Durham

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Stephen “Steve” Oran Phillips, 68, passed away peacefully on February 27, 2024, surrounded by the warmth of his loved ones.

Born on September 12, 1955, in Marion, Indiana, Steve was the second son of the late Jo Anne (Shartzer) Phillips, and Lowell William Phillips of Oak Lawn, IL, who survives him. 

Steve was cherished by his family and leaves behind his beloved wife, Amy Rushton Welsh. He is also survived by his brothers: Craig Phillips (Cindy), Dennis Phillips, and David Phillips (Beth), nine nieces and nephews, numerous great-nieces and nephews, and a wide circle of friends, many of whom he considered family.

A graduate of Oak Lawn High School, Steve competed in gymnastics. His journey continued in service to his country in the US Navy, where he navigated the seas aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Enterprise during his tenure from 1973 to 1979, a chapter that marked the end of the Vietnam era. Steve's aptitude and high potential earned him a coveted role in the nuclear program aboard the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Transitioning from the seas to the technology industry, Steve embarked on a long, successful career in North Carolina at Nortel Networks and Ciena. Beyond his professional achievements, he helped people evolve their careers and cultivated lasting friendships both in and out of the office.

He loved golf, cooking, and vacationing near the water in favorite spots from Holden Beach in NC to Nevis in the West Indies. Steve loved to travel off the beaten path and to experience the culture led by the locals, which often resulted in lasting bonds. He was an avid sports fan of his Chicago teams – “Cubbies” and “da Bears” – and adopted the NC State Wolfpack as his local favorite once he moved to Raleigh.

A man of quiet generosity, wisdom, and humility, Steve's legacy carries on in the many hearts and lives he touched. He lived life on his terms and was known for his authenticity, quick wit and having a good time wherever he went, a testament to his zest for life.

In 2021, Steve embarked on a new chapter following a successful double lung transplant at UNC – Chapel Hill, a gift that afforded him precious time with his loved ones. He often joked that while his heart may have belonged to State, his lungs were courtesy of Carolina.

The family is eternally grateful for the donor and the ongoing support from Steve’s extraordinarily talented transplant team at UNC. His incredible tenacity through many complications inspired him to fight harder, often keeping his struggles private. He was fond of saying “I gotta get higher on the hill before the next bump.”  

In honoring Steve's remarkable journey made possible through organ donation, the family kindly requests contributions to HonorBridge (honorbridge.org) in lieu of flowers. Consider giving the gift of life by becoming an organ donor at Donate Life NC (donatelifenc.org).

A Celebration of Life service will be held at noon on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at Manchester’s Grill, 9101 Leesville Road in Raleigh, NC. Following the service, we will reminisce and raise a glass to Steve’s legacy of love and strength.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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