Evelyn McPhail Dies at Age 68
Evelyn McPhail, a former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, died Nov. 25 in Mississippi of complications from a 1997 car accident. She was 68.
Mrs. McPhail, known for her tenacity in promoting the GOP over the last 35 years, never fully recovered from the crash and spent months in a rehabilitation center here and in a nursing home in Meridian, Miss.
Her condition had worsened, and family members decided this month to bring her home to the Gulf Coast for her final days, friend Eddie Briggs said.
Mrs. McPhail lived in an orphanage as a child. She built a reputation as a kind but determined worker on the political frontlines.
"She came out of an orphanage and walked with presidents," said Mike Retzer, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Since the accident, big-name Republicans had tracked her progress and contributed to the mounting medical bills.
Former president George Bush headlined a fund-raiser for her in Jackson.
Mrs. McPhail led the Mississippi Republican Party in 1987-93.
Under her leadership, Republicans claimed the governor's job for the first time this century with Kirk Fordice's 1991 victory over incumbent Ray Mabus (D).
Mrs. McPhail joined the national Republican Party as director of political education in 1993 and was elected to the party's No. 2 position two years later, serving under fellow Mississippian Haley Barbour for one two-year term.
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