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James “Dimitri” Phillips, 96, passed away peacefully on August 25, 2023, surrounded by his loving family at his home in Newtown Square, PA.
Jimmy was born in the village of Plesio in Epirus, Greece on August 10, 1927. Before immigrating to the United States in the late 1940s, Jimmy fought with the Greek Resistance Movement (“The Antartes”) during World War 2, protecting the mountain and countryside villages from the Nazi invasions. He rose the ranks to Brigadier General (Ταξιάρχης Αλέξανδρος) among his countrymen and earned a reputation as a fearless and fiercely loyal leader and fighter.
He left Greece for Philadelphia, with only a few dollars in his pocket and began work as a busboy in a local restaurant. He would go on to own and operate a successful luncheonette in downtown Manhattan for thirty years, waking up at 2 am every day whether he had a fever or not to ensure customers- mostly delivery and servicemen in the area- got their 4 am breakfast and coffee. He became a staple of the community.
Jimmy will be remembered for many things; his grit, his toughness, his pride in being an "Epirotis." But perhaps what he will be most remembered for was his deep love for his wife of 71 years, Mary. Jimmy met Mary at Saint George’s Cathedral in Philadelphia and fell instantly in love. Within days he made it known to her and her family that he would marry her. Together, Mary and Jimmy moved to Upper Manhattan and had two boys, George and Michael. Twelve years later, they had their daughter, Niki or "Nikoula," as Jimmy affectionately called her. They raised their children in Jackson Heights, Queens surrounded by beloved family friends and koumbari. Their weekends were spent in upstate New York doing all things Jimmy and Mary loved: fishing, hunting, and eating at buffets.
Jimmy's best years were his retirement years. His pride and joy were his grandchildren and although they were split between Pennsylvania and New York City, Jimmy and Mary never missed a single moment; graduations, birthdays, Greek school plays, emergency hospital visits, sick days, "Pappou Jimmy" was there for it all. His family often joked about the time he spent in his Chevy Tahoe, driving back and forth relentlessly (before dawn, to beat traffic) to show his love and support, beaming with pride at every accomplishment no matter how small. His work ethic was unmatched, he made his bed every day of his 96 beautiful and full years on earth.
His loyalty and love for his family was incredibly apparent in everything he did. Jimmy was truly one of the "greats," and he will be deeply missed by his family, friends and his best buddy "Wally." Jimmy is survived by his two children and their spouses, Niki and Gus Raptis and George and Militsa Phillips, his grandchildren, Ari, Sophia, her husband Peter, Maria, Maria and Penny, as well as two great grandchildren, Alexander and Kosta. Though Jimmy will be deeply missed here on earth, we can find peace knowing he will be reunited with his beautiful Marika (Mary). A love so strong couldn’t keep them apart for long. They will forever remain in our hearts and memories.
Friends and family are welcome to attend his viewing from 10am to 11am, Wednesday, at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, 35 N. Malin Rd, Broomall, Pa 19008. His funeral service will take place at 11am in the church. His interment will follow at Edgewood Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to, The St. Luke's Mens Club. 35 N. Malin Rd. Broomall, Pa 19008. https://www.st-luke.org/mens-senior-group
St. Luke's Mens Club
35 N. Malin Rd., Broomall PA 19008