Richard I. Phillips, 74, a retired Foreign Service officer who had served as head of the State Department's press office and as senior deputy assistant secretary of State for public affairs in the 1960s, died June 28 at the Washington Home. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Phillips joined the Foreign Service in 1946 as information officer at the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. He served in Venezuela and Kenya, then was deputy public affairs officer of State's Bureau of Inter-American Affairs from 1954 to 1957. After duty in Guadalajara, Mexico, he returned to Washington, and in 1962 became special assistant to the assistant secretary of State for public affairs.
In July 1963, he was named director of the department's Office of News. As such, he was the State Department's official spokesman.
From 1964 to 1969, he was promoted to the post of deputy assistant secretary of State for public affairs. He then spent a year as acting assistant secretary for public affairs.
During those years, his travels took him to the Dominican Republic during its civil war, and to South Korea as part of the team that retrieved the sailors of the Pueblo taken prisoner by North Korea.
Mr. Phillips' last assignment, before retiring from the State Department, in 1971, was as consul general in Monterrey, Mexico. From 1972 until retiring for reasons of health in 1980, he was industrial community relations adviser to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.
He was a recipient of the State Department's Commendable Service, Meritorious Service, and Distinguished Honor awards. He was a Rotarian and a member of the American Foreign Service Association and DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired).
Mr. Phillips, who lived in Washington, was born in New Mexico and reared in Los Angeles. He was a graduate of the University of Southern California and its law school. In the 1930s, he practiced law in Argentina. During World War II, he was executive secretary and acting chairman of the Coordination Commission for Uruguay, part of the organization supervised by the U.S. coordinator for Inter-American Affairs, Nelson A. Rockefeller.
Mr. Phillips' first wife, the former Irene Shields, died in 1963. His survivors include his wife, Katherine, of Washington.