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First director of Wisconsin Catholic Conference dies Print
Lay person obituaries
Thursday, Feb. 09, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Chuck Phillips

MADISON -- Charles M. “Chuck” Phillips was a familiar sight at the state Capitol for many years as the first executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC).

Phillips left a successful career in radio and television broadcasting in Milwaukee in 1969 to embrace the challenge of representing the five Catholic dioceses in Wisconsin in state and federal public policy matters.

Phillips, 83, died on January 30 in Las Vegas, Nev., where he moved after his retirement in 1992.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at St. Maria Goretti Church, 5313 Flad Ave., Madison. In lieu of flowers, people are asked to send donations to the charity of their choice.

Instrumental in forming WCC

“It is fair to say no single person had more to do with the formation of the conference and the identity it presented to Catholics, policy makers, and other organizations than he did,” said John Huebscher, the current executive director of the WCC.

Huebscher worked under Phillips as associate director for five years before taking over as director in 1992.

The WCC was founded in 1969 by the bishops of Wisconsin to fulfill the vision of the Second Vatican Council II, which called upon the Church to be more involved in the world.

With the message of the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church as its foundation, the WCC offers a specifically Catholic contribution to state and federal public policy debates. The conference also offers a statewide response to issues common to its five dioceses.

During his tenure at the WCC, Phillips often gave testimony in hearings at the state Capitol and visited with state legislators on issues of importance to Catholics.

On the national level, he served as a member and chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ National Advisory Council from 1979 to 1983. He was also president of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors from 1974 to 1976.

Phillips was a founding board member of Project Equality of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Association of Nonpublic Schools, and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Catholic Health Association of Wisconsin.

Admired his work ethic, vision

Sarah Freiburger Kidd, Madison, served as the first associate director of the WCC with Phillips. She was hired in 1972, primarily to work with education issues.

She commented, “Chuck for me has been a friend and I consider him a mentor. I admired his work ethic, his clarity, and his vision of the Catholic Conference. He was a wonderful Christian man.”

She recalled that Chuck and his wife, Carol, helped start the Marriage Encounter movement in the Diocese of Madison. They were on the executive team and were involved in leading Marriage Encounter weekends for many years.

At the time of Phillips’ retirement, Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, chairman of the WCC board at that time, said, “The bishops greatly appreciate Chuck’s 23 years of service to the Catholic Church in the state of Wisconsin. His good common sense has consistently brought a welcome reasonableness to the debate in the very difficult and often controversial issues of WCC concern. He has distinguished himself as a hard working professional and a conscientious advocate for justice.”

After his move to Las Vegas with Carol, Phillips was active in volunteer work and enjoyed travel and visits with family and friends.

Phillips was born April 7, 1928, in Milwaukee, the son of Harlindis and Martin Miksch. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Carol; seven children; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Messages of condolence may be sent to Carol Phillips, 2801 Golf Links Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89134.

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