A La Cañada resident of 37 years, Dr. John Tyler Phillips passed away in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 7, at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. With him were his wife Patricia, six of his seven children, the spouses of his children and several of his eight grandchildren.
Dr. Phillips, known to many as JT, was born on Dec. 22, 1920 in Paducah, Kentucky. After growing up in Washington, D.C. and attending the prestigious Dunbar High School established for the benefit of gifted African American children, he entered Dartmouth College at the age of 16. In his interview at admission, the admissions counselor noted for the file While only 16, with 17th birthday in December, the boy is well poised and there is nothing youthful in his reactions.
After his graduation in 1941, Dr. Phillips did graduate work in languages at the University of Chicago and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at Meharry Medicine College in Nashville, Tenn., which in 1996 recognized him for his 50 years of 'outstanding and dedicated service' as a physician. Dr. Phillips chose a career in medicine rather than as a violinist when his studies were interrupted by World War II. He also served as an Air Force burn surgeon in the Korean War. In 1959 Dr. Phillips established his general surgery practice in Los Angeles with his longtime friend and partner, Dr. Raimundo Rodriguez, and ultimately became board certified as a hand surgeon.
For many years he served the people of East Los Angeles and the greater Los Angeles area and also donated services at local hospitals. Drs. Phillips and Rodriguez worked at California Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital. In 1996, at age 76, Dr. Phillips' health forced him into retirement earlier than he would have liked.
As a hand surgeon, Dr. Phillips was known for his painstaking, meticulous work repairing injuries and precisely restructuring patients' hands. He learned from each procedure and others learned from him. He recorded his surgical work with his high speed camera to the extent that a patient, when asked who his doctor was, replied - 'oh, that's him, the one with the camera!'