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Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to one of William Phillips Sr.'s sons as Anthony. His name is Andrew. This version has been corrected.

Alaska plane crash victim Bill Phillips Sr. 'was an all-around good man'

Former senator Ted Stevens, one of the most powerful congressmen of his generation, was killed Aug. 9 in an airplane crash in a remote part of southwest Alaska.

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 11, 2010; 10:22 PM

William "Bill" Phillips Sr., who was among those who died in a plane crash while returning from a salmon fishing trip in Alaska this week, was not only a prominent lobbyist who knew the inner workings of Capitol Hill.

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Phillips, 56, of Germantown, was a devout Catholic and the epitome of a family man, his friends and family said.

"He was an all-around good man," said Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., a well-known lobbyist who met Phillips in the early 1980s when he served as legislative director and chief of staff to Sen. Ted Stevens, 86. Stevens and Phillips were among the five people who died in the crash, including pilot Theron "Terry" Smith, 62; Dana Tindall, 48, an executive with the company that owned the plane; and her daughter, Corey Tindall, 16.

Four passengers survived the crash, including former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, 54, and his son, Kevin, of Ashburn; Phillips's son, William "Willy" Phillips Jr., 13, of Germantown; and Jim Morhard, 53, of Arlington.

Susan Christianson, a spokeswoman for the Phillips family, released a statement Wednesday expressing condolences to the other families affected by the crash and gratitude to those who helped with the search and rescue operations.

Bill Phillips "was a man of deep faith who lived for his family, was kind, generous and believed in the goodness of every individual," Christianson said. "Bill was a successful entrepreneur and a gifted attorney whose wisdom and insights into life, law and public policy were sought by many."

Phillips's specialty at his Washington-based firm, Utrecht & Phillips, was legislative law and congressional procedure, and he had experience in several public policy areas, including economic regulation, transportation, energy and national defense.

"Bill was always the first to step in, lend a helping hand, and indeed provide leadership when others were in need, a rock upon which many relied for support and counsel during the toughest of times," Christianson added.

Boggs called him a "professional Washington expert [who] knew how it worked, the mechanics of getting things done."

Boggs said Phillips, who had four children with his wife, Janet, enjoyed his Alaskan fishing trips and talking politics.

But when Phillips wasn't working, Boggs said, he was spending time with his four sons, Paul, Andrew, Colter and William "Willy" Jr., who was traveling with Phillips and is in the eighth grade at Mater Dei School in Bethesda.

"He loved his kids," said Boggs. "They are going to miss him a hell of a lot."

Jim Daves, a spokesman for the University of Virginia athletic department, said Colter Phillips left the football team to be with his family after getting word about the crash.

Christopher Shinkman, who met Phillips about two years ago through the athletics department at Stanford University, where one of Phillips's sons plays football, said Phillips spoke often about his sons' accomplishments. Andrew, Colter and Paul play football at Stanford, the University of Virginia and Indiana, respectively.

"He was a wonderful man . . . who was proud of his boys," Shinkman said.

A message left at Utrecht & Phillips was not returned Wednesday.

Phillips's colleagues posted a message on the firm's Web site expressing their grief.

"We are devastated by the loss of our partner and friend," the Web site reads. "Bill was a loving father, devoted husband and esteemed colleague. We will miss him terribly and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Bill, Senator Stevens and other victims of the crash."

Christianson said: Phillips "will be remembered for the extraordinary love, commitment, faith and wisdom he gave to his family. His legacy will live on through his four boys and the tremendous impact he had on their lives."


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