Ada (Tate) Church Phillips

Ada (Tate) Church Phillips, of Asheville, N.C., daughter of the late Marion Leroy Church and Ollie Venie Tester Church, was a lady of the mountains, born and raised in WNC High Country.

She loved nature and we can imagine her soul fluttering around the WNC country side like a butterfly. Tate was born on the Cone Estate in Blowing Rock Township, Watauga County, NC on April 26, 1921, where her father was employed at the Cone Estate. She died of old age at the Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, N.C., on August 9, 2021.

When her father changed jobs, the family, now with five girls, moved to Shulls Mill where her father worked for the ET&WNC narrow gauge railroad that ran between Johnson City, TN, and Boone, N.C. When her mother died 2 months after the birth of their son, Robert on March 14, 1926, the father took Tate, now aged 5, and other four girls to the Grandfather Home for Children Orphanage in Banner Elk, N.C. Robert was adopted by Aner Rominger, a cousin of Tates mother.

Tate had a wonderful life at the orphanage where she was able to swim in Wildcat Lake, ride a horse in the pasture, help with farm chores, wander through the woods, climb trees, play games with the other children, and do all the things that children in a rural area did. When she went to public school, it was in Cranberry, N.C., 6 miles away by bus. Whenever she stayed late at school, she hoofed it back up the mountain to the orphanage.

After graduation she moved from the orphanage onto the campus of Lees McRae College in Banner Elk where she worked her way through school by waiting on tables and cleaning rooms. After graduation from Lees McRae College, she was employed by Hanes Hosiery in Winston-Salem, N.C. During World War II, she volunteered for Nurses training and interned at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. After the war, she was employed by the Kingsport Press, Kingsport, TN.

In 1946 she married Winston Jerome Jackson, brother of L.B. Jackson, Asheville builder and for whom the Jackson Building in Asheville is named. They lived in Kingsport, TN, where Winston had built a new house for her, and where he was employed by the Eastman Kodak Chemical Corp. After Winstons retirement in 1974, they moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It was there that she met neighbors, Ted and Sally Lange, who introduced her to private jets and ships. After Winston’s death she roamed the world with the Langes on their yacht, the Sally Ann, where Tate had her own stateroom and head. Tate’s home in Asheville was in DeerWood on Hendersonville Road.

Tate married a second time to Edward Phillips, an engineer with Illinois Bell. They lived in a house near the top of Town Mountain Road in Asheville. He died in 1997 and afterwards Tate moved into Deerfield in February 2000. It was there she met a fellow Independent Living resident, Dr. Jay Lathrop, and the two shared the beauty of WNC and the wonderful amenities of Deerfield for 20 years until Tate developed problems that caused her to move from Independent Living to Assisted Living at Deerfield.

Tate was a member of the Carolina Mountain Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. An experienced hiker, she hiked the English Lake District 3 times, climbed Sca Fell in England, Mt. LeConte, NC, Mt. Washington, NH, and Mt. Mitchell, NC. She was a dancer, a polka expert, and a Deerfield cheerleader. She enjoyed Pilates and Tai Chi.

Tate was preceded in death by her parents, both husbands, sisters, Dora Sanders, Dorothy Church, Edna Pierson and brother Robert Rominger. She is survived by her sister Josephine Handley of Athens, Ga. and by her cousin, Carolyn Davis of Banner Elk, NC. She is also survived by three nieces, Linda Tomlinson, Athens, Ga., Dorothy Hauck, St. Augustine, Fla., and Norma Buffone, Jacksonville, Fla., and by seven nephews.

Mrs. Ada Phillips did not wish for any observance of her life and death. Memorials may be made to Crossnore School and Children’s Home, P O Box 249, Crossnore, NC 28616-0249. Condolences can be made to the family at ashevilleareaalternative.com.

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