Lillie Mae Phillips was born on October 11, 1941 in Tipton County, Covington, Tennessee. She was the ninth of fourteen children born to the late Arthur Lee and Eliza Caruthers. Lillie attended Tabernacle School in Covington, Tennessee. She confessed her life to Christ at an early age.
A woman of many hats and many names, Lillie was known as “Goon” by her siblings, “Mama” by her children, “Grandma” by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, “Lillie Mae” by her family, and “Big Lil” by her friends. In her work with Safe Passage for Orr High School, even her students and coworkers came to affectionately know her as Grandma and Mama.
Lillie’s food was famous; she loved to cook and enjoyed feeding family and friends. Her home was always a welcome space - she would feed you, clothe you, and provide you a place to stay. After eating, the dinner table became a card table - Bid Whist was her favorite, but she also enjoyed playing spades and taking your money in Pitty Pat.
Lillie was always on the move. She enjoyed the action and camaraderie of the racetrack. Every week she could be found volunteering at her favorite food pantry. Traveling to annual Caruthers-Reynolds-Williamson family reunions was a highlight of her year.
Lillie was true to her matriarch status in the family - she supported and protected her own without question. She spoke her mind and delivered her message in the language that you understood. A pillar in her family and community, Lillie was a blessing to many.
Lillie was preceded in death by her husband, Thaddeus Phillips; 10 brothers: William, James “Jimbo”, Arthur “Artie”, Quinton “Danny”, Melvin “Castro”, Herschel, Clyde, Andrew “Budge”, Robert “Rob”, and Willie Mac “Fiz”; 2 sisters: Ollie B and Bernice “Bird”; and 2 sons: Anthony “Ant” and Vester
Lillie leaves to cherish her memory: 2 sisters, Martha “Sis” Tharps-Hall of Atlanta, GA and Barbara Jean Caruthers-Payne of Chicago, IL; sons, Will “Jr” Tharps (Dawn) and Ronald Outlar; daughters, Clovise Phillips, Sandra Robinson, Aretha “Rita” Tharps-Wilson (Dennis), Conchita Lewis, and Sharaca Ward; and goddaughter, Latrice Conley-Cashaw. Lillie was blessed to love Leah Thomas, Kelvin Berry and James Howard as her own children. Lillie’s heritage includes 33 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends that will miss her dearly.
Lillie departed this earthly life on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois.
Lillie lived a life where her absence will be felt by many, but her legacy will live on through everyone that loved her.
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