by Paul Adkins
STEVENSVILLE, Mont. – Ancil Duane Phillips, 82, of Stevensville, Mont., was born October 8, 1929 in Rum Creek in Logan County – the son of a coal miner. He passed away quietly on March 24, 2013 at Valley View Estates in Montana.
Duane’s early life was typical of his era and place – doing the best he could with the resources available in a coal-mining community waiting for the day he could enter the coal mines and begin working on his own future. Just far enough into his coal-mining career to acquire a touch of “black lung,” yet still young enough to make good decisions and start new things in his life he experienced the dread of all West Virginia coal miners; a cave-in.
That cave-in, which held him captive for a few hours, did not scare him to death. It scared him to life. Not long afterwards he moved himself and his family to Las Vegas, Nev., worked his way up the ladder in Central Telephone Company and retired from that job in 1979. Duane Phillips’ time in the desert was spent with boats, cars and motorcycles but when he moved to Montana he pursued his true love and began to live his lifelong dream. He started raising cattle.
Duane crossed Lost Trail Pass with his wife Leona, daughters Sharon Sue Phillips (Lewis), Debra Lawton and sons Mark and Brian Lawton and all his dreams in tow. His oldest son, Jesse Roy Phillips held down the fort by staying at his job in Las Vegas, becoming a partner in the cattle and horse business in Montana and spending part of his summers working with his dad in the corrals and hay fields. Ancil Duane Phillips accomplished what many men fail to do. He worked at his dreams hard enough to make them happen. He was born into a hard-working coal-mining family that taught him how to dig his way out of a cave-in – whatever form that comes in. He died having raised his cattle in Montana. He built one of the most beautiful herds of Red Angus a West Virginia boy could ever dream up.
Duane loved his family. He is preceded in death by his sisters Jenny Griffin and Cil Miller and his daughter Panthea Phillips. He is survived by his wife Leona Phillips; his children, Connie Gore of Madison, Jess Phillips of Las Vegas, Nev., Sharon Lewis of Corvallis, Mont., Mark Lawton of Layton, Utah, Brian Lawton of Curitiba, Brazil and Debbie Lawton of Missoula. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, six grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday, March 30, at 3 p.m. at Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville with Chris Anderson officiating. Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery in Stevensville. A reception will follow the funeral service.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Habitat for Humanity.
Information supplied by family.
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