Phillips, since moving to West Carrollton 55 years ago, has been involved numerous community activities, including levy committees for West Carrollton School District and West Carrollton Fire Department and participating in citizen academies courses for West Carrollton Fire and Police departments.
In addition, Phillips volunteers much of her time with charities in the area, including West Carrollton-based MUM Food Pantry at Memorial United Methodist Church and the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, where she donates goods she collects from friends and neighbors. She also is a volunteer usher at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center.
“Maryjo, you’re truly a gem and a jewel for the city of West Carrollton because I know that anytime anybody needs anything or we need help with anything, all we have to do is give you a call,” Mayor Jeff Sanner told Phillips during her induction ceremony at a Sept. 28 West Carrollton City Council meeting.
During the ceremony, Phillips shifted the spotlight from herself to others, saying her Plaza of Fame honor would not have been possible without the countless people who help the causes to which she dedicates herself.
“They’re the ones who donate food for the Humane Society and the blankets and the cots for the dogs to lay on and everything that I take down there, and all the food that ends up in the food pantry,” Phillips said. “I collect pill bottles to go to Matthew 25: Ministries down in Cincinnati from the church, the Humane Society, my neighbors, everybody. I got a lot of pill bottles. They go to Matthew 25 and they sterilize them ... and they go with the missionaries overseas. That’s where they get used.”
She said she invests so much time into the community because “what you do for others is what counts.”
Born in a log cabin in eastern Ohio in 1933, Phillips graduated high school at 17 years old and, along with a school friend, traveled to Dayton with no money, no car and no place to stay. She began working at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, spending 25 years there in total throughout her career.
Married to Bob Phillips for almost 55 years, she took time off to raise their children, Mark and Roberta, both of whom graduated from West Carrollton High School. Phillips, who also has eight grandchildren, welcomed her third great-grandchild a few months ago.
A West Carrollton resident since 1966, Phillips worked for a number of years for the West Carrollton City Schools, both as the boys attendance secretary and detention monitor and then returned to the schools years later as a substitute teacher.
“She still takes tickets at home games,” said city spokeswoman Heidi Van Antwerp, who described Phillips as “pretty spunky and tenacious.”
Phillips stays active by spending time with friends at a Moraine senior citizens group and with her chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, which she joined in 1953.
Since 2003, 42 people have been recognized with the West Carrollton Plaza of Fame award, which is chosen by a three-member city council subcommittee based on nominations from citizens. All honorees have their names engraved on bricks placed at the Civic Center. A full list of inductees can be found at www.westcarrollton.org/plaza-of-fame.