Ralph Wesley Phillips, 93, a former Agriculture Department official who retired in the early 1980s as the Rome-based deputy director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, died of respiratory failure Jan. 7 at Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church.
Dr. Phillips worked for the Agriculture Department on and off from the mid-1930s to late 1970s, when he left as executive director of international organizational affairs in Washington. In the early 1940s, he spent time in China as an animal-breeding expert.
He worked for the U.N. on and off from the mid-1940s to early 1980s, when he resettled in the Washington area. He then did consulting work on animal breeding for the State Department and continued to write scientific papers and edit books.
Among his books was a self-published autobiography, "The World Was My Barnyard."
He was born on a farm near Parsons, W.Va. He was a 1930 agricultural graduate of Berea College in Kentucky and received master's and doctoral degrees in animal physiology from the University of Missouri.
His memberships included the Cosmos Club.
He was a recipient of the Agriculture Department's Distinguished Service Award.
He was a former editor of the Journal of Animal Science.
His first wife, Mary Pozzi Phillips, whom he married in 1934, died in 1981.
Survivors include his wife, Ellen Herron, whom he married in 1983, of Arlington; a daughter from his first marriage, Maria Yates of Colorado Springs; six stepchildren, Lillian Rohrer of Lincoln, Va., Margaret Bertin of Arlington, Richard Herron of Springfield, Philip Herron of Vienna and Patricia Herron and Kathryn Herron-Verancio, both of McLean; and 13 grandchildren.