Charles E. Phillips, 82, former president and chairman of the board of Equitable Life Insurance Co. here and a former chairman of the board of trustees of George Washington University, died March 12 at his home in Bethesda. He had Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Phillips started as a clerk at Equitable Life in 1922 while attending law school at night at George Washington University. He remained with the company until 1978, when he retired as chairman of the board.

He was chairman of the old United Givers Fund drive in the Washington area in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, and he was president of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade in 1962 and 1963.

Mr. Phillips was born in Silver Spring. He attended the old Central High School in Washington and entered GWU law school soon after high school. He graduated in 1925, but he never practiced law. He spent his entire working career with Equitable Life.

From a clerk in the office of Allen G. Clark, the founder of Equitable Life, Mr. Phillips rose through the ranks to become assistant secretary in 1933, a member of the board in 1936, and secretary-treasurer and a member of the executive committee in 1943. He was president of the company from 1948 to 1968 and chairman of the board from 1968 until he retired.

He served on the board of trustees of George Washington University from 1962 until 1977, and he was chairman for his last five years.

He was a former president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington and the Congressional Country Club, and he was a member of the University Club.

Mr. Phillips is survived by his wife, Laura Emily, of Bethesda.