Irene Ella Phillips, 95, secretary, bookkeeper - The Buffalo News

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Irene Ella Phillips, 95, secretary, bookkeeper

Jan. 8, 1919 – May 2, 2014

Irene Ella Phillips, who was a secretary and bookkeeper for many years for the family business, Phillips Brothers Garage, died Friday in Greenfield Health & Rehabilitation Center, Lancaster, after a brief illness. She was 95.

Born Irene Ella Montz in Buffalo, she graduated from St. Mary of Sorrows School in 1932 and St. Nicholas High School in 1936. She graduated from Bryant & Stratton Business Institute in 1937.

As a young woman, she was an employee at National Biscuit Co., where she packed Ritz crackers, Saltines and cookies.

She played the fife and the bells with the Martha Washington Drum Corps.

She and her husband, Alexander E. Phillips, were members of the Buffalo Motorcycle Club for many years. They rode their Harley-Davidson motorcycle together, took their honeymoon on a motorcycle, climbing Pikes Peak, touring the West and visiting many of the national parks.

From 1938 to 1985, she was secretary and bookkeeper for Phillips Brothers Garage at 1099 Genesee St., a general repair garage owned and run by her husband and his two brothers. In 1955, the family business obtained a franchise for the Divco Dairy Truck distributorship, a house-to-house dairy delivery in the Buffalo area, which they maintained for 20 years. They obtained a franchise for the Hackney Refrigerated Body distributorship during the same period, selling and leasing the trucks to customers.

Mrs. Phillips often helped her husband with delivery of trucks and transport of truck chassis to and from the factory in North Carolina. She took great pride in her ability to drive the large multi-gear commercial vehicles, which was an unusual accomplishment for a woman in those days.

A life member of the Tonawanda Island Launch Club since 1968, she and her family were active in boating on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, enjoying water skiing and fishing. The family toured the United States with their Higgins Camp Trailer. In later life, she and her husband traveled with their Airstream Travel Trailer and toured all of the continental United States, including Alaska, made annual trips to Florida and toured Mexico.

A member of Infant of Prague Parish in Cheektowaga since 1949, she participated in many aspects of parish life, including the Altar and Rosary Society, Ladies of Charity and bowling, and she was secretary for Senior Achievers. She and her husband also served as bingo workers at the parish for more than 20 years. She enjoyed handcrafts and producing novel chocolate candies.

Later in life, she cared for her husband of more than 60 years, as he struggled with dementia. He died April 5, 2004.

Survivors include a son, Robert Edward; a daughter, Allene Claire Barans; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Infant of Prague Church, 921 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga.

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