In Memoriam

June 24, 2020 0 comments

Regent Remembers the Life and Service of Conoly Phillips

On April 22, 2020, heaven gained a most extraordinary man.

Friend, civic leader, respected businessman, and Regent board member Conoly Phillips passed away at the age of 88 — leaving behind his wife of 63 years, Betsy Phillips, three children, and five grandchildren.

“I am saddened by the passing of my dear friend, Conoly Phillips,” said Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, founder, chancellor and CEO of Regent University. “He has been a dear friend of mine for decades. I can say with great confidence that this wonderful man is now fully alive and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Phillips was a successful businessman, working in the automotive industry for more than 40 years before retiring as the owner, president and chairman of Conoly Phillips Lincoln Mercury. He was also deeply invested as a civic and community leader, serving on the Norfolk City Council for 20 years, as well as past president of Union Mission, Northside Rotary Club and United Way of Virginia, to name just a few.

Phillips also served as a Regent board member on several occasions beginning in 1991, including Chairman of the Board from 2009-11. 

Yet in everything he did — be it business, politics or community service — his family would agree that Phillips always brought his faith to bear. 

“He had a business life, a political life and a spiritual life,” said his son, Jim Phillips, in an article by The Virginian-Pilot. “I think it was his spiritual life that guided all the others. He did a lot, but he was asked to do a lot because he was a good leader. He had a calling to do the things he did and he was driven to do those things.”

Phillips would open city council meetings with prayer, saying, “Never be anywhere of importance without a call from the Lord.”

According to his wife, Betsy, his service on Regent University’s board was a calling he accepted with great joy and purpose.

“The Lord showed Conoly where he should serve, and so he would listen and serve passionately,” she said. “Conoly loved the board of trustees, the students and the university’s mission, and he wanted to glorify the Lord. It was a joy for him to serve on a board that was so dear to the Lord.”

It was a joy for his fellow board members as well. “It has been my privilege to serve on the Regent University board of trustees with Conoly since 1991,” said David Melilli. “Intelligent, thoughtful and prayerful in all deliberations made him a strong, active and valuable member of the trustees. With a creative mind for business, Conoly helped steer the university through many challenges and thankfully lived to see many prayers answered and come to fruition.” 

“We are all grateful for the tremendous investment that Mr. Phillips made to Regent for so long and in the lives of many of us,” added Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Regent. “We will deeply miss his bold and obedient spirit, as well as his encouragement. Our prayers are with his wife and family.”

A special scholarship fund has been set up in memory of Phillips’ service to Regent University. Gifts can be made at by selecting “Scholarship Fund” and typing “In Memory of Conoly Phillips.”

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