The Camera Man: Elliott O. Philips, Sr.

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Elliot O Phillips Sr
Elliot O. Phillips Sr. Credit: Carl Snowden's Facebook page

On April 18, 2017, Elliott O. Phillips, Sr. passed away. His friends called him “Phil”.

Phil was 76 years old. Born in Chicago, he lived in Gambrills in Anne Arundel County, Maryland for the last 38 years. He was married to Juanita Beaton Phillips for 53 years. Phil was a father, grandfather and a friend to many. He was a member of the United States Army for 27 years. After retiring from the armed services, he started a photography business.

When I first met Phil, it was at a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner; he had his camera. A tall man, he stood out in any crowd. His height gave him a unique view of a room. His camera caught politicians, preachers, teachers, firefighters and people just being people. Most of his photos captured people smiling or laughing.

I would watch him as he positioned himself to get just the right shot.  Perhaps a photo of warm embraces or two elderly people dancing the night away. His photographs reflected who he was – a man who liked people. And everyone who knew Phil, liked him. He was the kind of person who could strike up a conversation with you and in a matter of minutes, you felt like you knew him all of your life.

Everything that Phil did was with grace and dignity. I remembered when he became commander of the American Legion Cook-Pinkney Post 141 in Annapolis, Maryland. He took on that responsibility and gave it his all. Some people go through life never having accomplished anything. Others leave a lasting legacy. Phil is in the latter category. He leaves a dedicated wife, children that made him proud and grandchildren with so much potential. He loved them all.

People like Phil are rare. He was a giant and yet, he never looked down on anyone. He always extended a helping hand and made a difference in the lives of people. He did not know at the time, but every photograph he took became a part of our history.

On this Friday, April 28, 2017, at 12 noon, his funeral will be held at the Donaldson Funeral Home in Odenton, Maryland. Following the funeral, an internment with honors will take place at the Crownsville Veteran Cemetery at 1122 Sunrise Beach Rd, Crownsville, MD.

The late Reverend Leroy Bowman once said that the greatest compliment that you can pay to a deceased man is these five words, “He was a good man.” Indeed, Elliott O. Phillips, Sr. was a good man. Goodnight my brother – no more pain, no more sorrow. Thank you for the great memories. You shall never be forgotten.

Carl Snowden is a political and civil rights leader in Annapolis.

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