Tom Arthur Phipps, age 87 of Dalton, Georgia, passed away September 30, 2018 at Hamilton Medical Center.
He was a veteran, teacher, pastor, and mentor to many.Tom loved music and hiking on the Appalacian Trail. He wrote two songs, The Georgia Waltz and Walking On the Appalacian Trail.
Tom Arthur Phipps was born November 27, 1930 in Akron, Ohio, where his parents had moved to work at the Goodyear Tire Factory during the Great Depression. The family returned to Georgia in 1937. Tom attended Dawnville School and graduated high school in 1950 at Mount Berry School for Boys in Rome, Georgia. While at Berry, he studied the “Life of Jesus” and became a Christian in 1949. Drafted in April of 1951, Tom took basic training at Camp Breckenridge, KY and jump school at Fort Benning, GA. He shipped out to join the 187th Airborne R.C.T. “Rakkasans” at Camp Chickamauga in Beppu, Japan and was assigned to Medical Company. In Korea Tom served at Koji-Do and saw patrol action in the Kumwha Valley. Discharged from the Army in April 1953, Tom entered Truett McConnell Junior College on the G.I. Bill, where he met Jerri Caldwell. They were married in 1957. Tom earned an A.B. degree from Mercer University in 1959, a Master of Education degree from the University of Georgia in 1975, and finished a Course of Study in Theology at Emory University in the 1980s. Over a twenty-one year period, Tom taught eighth grade at Pleasant Grove Elementary in Whitfield County, Cass High School and Adairsville High Schools in Bartow County and Mountain Top Boy’s Home in Sugar Valley.
Tom’s Christian ministry took him first to Mount Yonah Baptist Church in Cleveland, Georgia and to Johnson Drive Baptist Church in Athens, where his and Jerri’s children were born. Local churches Tom served included Eton Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist, Hopewell Baptist in Cohutta, McGaughey’s Chapel UMC, Mount Pleasant UMC, Mineral Springs UMC, all in Whitfield County, and Kensington UMC and Cedar Grove UMC in Walker County. He retired from Mineral Springs UMC in 1998, where he was still an active member. Tom was active in the community, serving on the board of Harvest Outreach Center for the Homeless, and in the Big Brother/Big Sister program. He was a long-time member of the Whitfield County Democratic Committee.
Tom was a member of American Legion Post 112, serving as a baseball manager and coach during the 1990s, and later as post and district chaplain and member of the Honor Guard. Tom was also served as national chaplain of the The 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association “Golden Rakkasans,” exemplifying the motto, “Let Valor Not Fail!”
He was preceded in death by his parents Leonard and Myrtle Phipps, sister Jaqueline Phipps Baggett, and brothers Buster Phipps and Allen Phipps.
Tom is survived by his wife of 61 years, Geraldine “Jerri” Caldwell Phipps and by his children and their spouses, Cheryl Phipps and Bruce Harris of Dalton, and Chris and Maseray Phipps of Troy, Michigan, and his grandchildren, Carmen Phipps, Mia Phipps and Tom Phipps, all of Troy, Michigan.
The family will receive friends from 5pm to 9pm on Friday, October 5 at Jones Funeral Home in Chatsworth. Services will be at noon Saturday, October 6 at Mineral Springs UMC, 4079 Airport Road in Dalton. The body will lie in state at the church from 11 am. Interment will follow in the Mineral Springs UMC cemetery with military graveside rites by the Dalton American Legion Post 112.
The family expresses thanks to Hamilton Home Health Care, Hamilton Wound Care, Hamilton Hospice and the many other physicians and nurses who were diligent in taking care of Tom’s needs.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be considered to Mountain Top Boys Home, 65 Mountain Top Way, Sugar Valley, GA 30746 or to Mineral Springs UMC, c/o 1678 Thomas Road NW, Dalton, GA 30721.
Online condolences may be offered at: www.jjonesfuneralhome.com.
Jones Funeral Home of Chatsworth is in charge of the funeral arrangements.