Diana R. Phillips | November 12, 1929- October 30, 2022


Diana Roesch Phillips passed away in her sleep on October 30, 2022 at Brookdale Senior Living in Ocala, Florida two weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. A resident of Tampa since 2014, she was relocated to Ocala during the evacuation order due to Hurricane Ian with other residents from her home in Brookdale Bayshore.

Diana DeRham Roesch was born 11/12/1929 in Ridgewood, New Jersey, the daughter of Constance Hoar Roesch and Eugene Roesch. In 1943 she and her divorced mother moved to Miami, Florida where she graduated near the top of her high school class at Ponce de Leon High and met the love of her life, James ( Mark) M. Phillips Jr. She left Smith College to marry him in 1948 and they remained happily married until Mark’s death in 2010.

She was a creative, industrious, curious and loving person. She had a lovely singing voice but never sought a spotlight, instead sang in the chorus of the Florida Grand Opera in high school. She wrote beautiful letters, notes, emails, even funny little poems in handmade birthday cards. A devoted mother and member of the community for every stage of her life she met challenges with perseverance and brought her optimistic, pragmatic, lighthearted way of being into everything she did. Love of literature remained a constant in her life. She created summer projects like a free library with her own children’s books for neighborhood kids to check out and wrote and directed plays for her kids and the neighbor kids to act in, created handmade holiday decorations, was a Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout Troop leader. She never said no to taking an extra kid home, and treated all of them like family. She was a champion for her children, supporting them in all their endeavors.

She had jobs before children as a sales clerk at Burdines on Flagler Street and worked at The Miami News as “copy girl”. The couple lived only short time out of Florida, once when her husband was working for an airline in Caracas, Venezuela and later in Houston, Texas as well. She was a fulltime homemaker, dedicated to her children’s upbringing until the youngest entered first grade, then she started a long career at Bell South , later AT&T, as manager of the customer service department until retirement in 19XX.

The next chapter found her busier than ever between spending time with family and dedicated volunteerism. She was past president of South Miami Rotary Club, through which she mentored students at South Miami High in RotarAct Club, helped manage the South Miami Rotary Arts Festival several years as that events’ chair, a tremendous source of pride and joy. For her great service she was honored with a key to the City of South Miami one year. She was a long- time member of the Institute of Maya Studies, attending the board meetings and presentations regularly. She also wrote the organization’s newsletter for some time. The Mayan culture was a source of endless fascination for her, as were other ancient civilizations.

She was never without a book, specifically loved to read nonfiction and history, and spent a small fortune on books for all her grandkids – they all cherish memories of a perfect “Gram day”- a trip to Borders Books and a stop at Swensen’s in South Miami for ice cream. Forever fascinated with ancient civilizations she was active in the Institute of Mayan Studies, and leant her writing skill as newsletter publisher for that organization. She relished in discussions of literature, philosophy, religion, art, classical music and so much more.

All her knew her were better for it, as she was a woman of great work ethic, intellect, compassion and patience. Shew was incredibly intuitive and made everyone around her feel safe and appreciated.

Caring for her husband’s declining health kept her home or close by most of her retired life. After suffering the loss of Mark in 2010 she underwent a series of incidents rapidly affecting her health, requiring full time care, she spent her time with family visits and busy with projects she took on vigorously like family history research, making homemade bookmarks for all she met and corresponding with family and friends until her hands wouldn’t allow it. Birthday celebrations in her honor, hugs from great grandchildren and attending her granddaughter Rachael’s wedding in 2018 were some of the highlights of her last years. She never let a chance to say “I love you” pass her by.

She is survived by five children and their spouses Paula Miller (Eric Miller); James M. Phillips III, (Kathryn Phillips) Kenneth Phillips (Therese Phillips, deceased) ; David Phillips; and Andrea Phillips-Lopez ( Rafael Lopez). She leaves 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

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