Honoring truly outstanding leaders from our community

Betty Myers, Helen Livingston, Superior Court Judge Craig Ellis and I are working to recognize a truly outstanding leader from our community with a roadside historical marker.

Federal Judge James Dickson Phillips Jr. was a professor in the UNC School of Law and served as its dean from 1964 until 1974. In 1978 he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 1994 he assumed senior status, serving in that status until his death in his Chapel Hill home on Aug. 27, 2017, at the age of 94.

Judge Phillips was a native of Laurinburg and a graduate of Laurinburg High School. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Davidson College and shortly after college he entered WWII as a paratrooper and served in Europe.

In March 1945 he and his platoon parachuted into the Rhineland and shortly he was wounded in a firefight near the town of Munster, Germany. He returned home after the war, graduated from the UNC School of Law and then practiced law in Laurinburg and Fayetteville along with Laurinburg natives Don McCoy and Terry Sanford. In 1960 he returned to Chapel Hill as a member of the faculty of the UNC School of Law.

Our goal is to try to recognize those truly outstanding individuals from this small community who have made significant statewide or beyond contributions. We believe that the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips Jr. is one of those individuals.

The state will install the silver with black letters individual historical markers only if the state agrees and the individual has been deceased for 25 years. Since Judge Phillips’ death was only one year ago, we are working to raise private funds to purchase and install a roadside marker in his honor, similar to the one that was installed on West Church Street in 2011 honoring Terry Sanford.

If you would like to contribute, please make your check to “Dick Phillips Marker Account” and send it to Dr. Bill Purcell, 1301 Dunbar Drive, Laurinburg, N.C. 28352.

Thank you for your help and support.

Dr. Bill Purcell