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Obituary: Morris Frank Phillips

Morris Frank Phillips died on Feb. 5, 2012 at the age of 98. Till the end, along with his wife Betty, Frank fought passionately for peace, education, and social justice. Frank was unusually smart, loving and committed to improving the lives of all people.

Frank championed peace, women’s rights, innovative education and civil rights. He found common ground for people of diverse religious and ethnic groups. Frank’s work was so fearlessly outspoken and courageous in support of civil rights that WCBS chronicled his work in the documentary Guess Who’s Coming to Great Neck. Faced with a decision that he knew would displease many people, in the late 1960s, as a member of the school board, Frank voted his conscience and voted to allow African American children from Queens to be bused into Great Neck Schools.

He was president and a long-term member of the Great Neck Board of Education, from 1964-1976. He developed and implemented the idea that each child deserves an education tailored to their specific needs and skills. Frank was an early and fervent opponent of the Vietnam War, and at the age of 90 one of the more vocal opponents of the Iraq War. He was a proud longtime co-chair of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives.

As founder, president and CEO of Hush-A-Bye for 54 years, he provided thousands of New York City baby boomers with toys, cribs, bedding, strollers and teen furniture. At 45, he attended Columbia Teachers’ College and earned his master’s degree. He shared his business skills when he taught at Nassau Community College.

He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Betty Phillips, with whom he had a lifelong love affair; his children, Karen and Robert Phillips; his grandchildren, Jesse Levine, Daniel and Eric Phillips, Alison and Jennifer Stearns, his sons-in-law, Frank Stearns and Harry Levine, and his daughter-in-law Julia Andrieni. His daughter Laurie Phillips died in 1995. We are all grateful for the values he lived and transmitted to us, and the love and support that he generously gave. He will live in our hearts forever.