Neil Bernard Phillips, 72, South Jersey physician who taught at Rowan

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Neil Bernard Phillips spent most of his life teaching and helping others. As a urologist, he helped develop a private practice that later became Delaware Valley Urology and at present employs 32 urologists.

Even upon retirement, at age 65, rest wasn’t something Dr. Phillips was willing to contemplate. So, for years he taught anatomy and physiology courses at Rowan College at Burlington County, where many students found him to be a great teacher and mentor.

Dr. Phillips, 72, who spent more than 35 years living in Cherry Hill, died Sunday, April 2, after complications associated with a sudden leukemia diagnosis at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Deborah Kahan Phillips, had moved to Philadelphia.

Dr. Phillips grew up in Manhattan, graduating from Bronx High School of Science in 1961. He attended Temple University to study pre-med as an undergraduate, meeting his wife there on a blind date. Deborah, who was studying medical technology, found it odd that she took many of the same classes and had mutual friends, but had never met Neil.

“When I saw him, I thought he was the cutest thing on Earth. We really clicked and were pretty much an item ever since,” his wife said.

The pair married in 1967, when Dr. Phillips was in his second year of medical school at New York University School of Medicine. After he graduated in 1969, the two moved around the country with his work. Deborah worked as a medical technologist at whatever hospital her husband worked with.

In 1974, the couple settled in Cherry Hill, where they raised their children. By then, they had two, Peter, now 46, and Emily Batt, now 44. Their youngest, daughter Elizabeth Phillips, now 42, was born in South Jersey.

“He was really good to us growing up, my sisters included. He was never too hard on me and I think all of us wanted him to be proud of us,” said his son, Peter, who now resides in Pleasantville, New York. Peter recalled that his father was big on travel, taking him on father-son fishing trips in Minnesota and Montana, in addition to their family trips around the world each year.

In his younger years, Phillips worked hard to expand a private practice in South Jersey, which began with only four urologists and has grown to  become Delaware Valley Urology.

“He was an excellent physician who was well respected by his peers,” said Dr. Sam Goldenberg, 60, a colleague & friend at Delaware Valley Urology. “His patients loved him because he cared.”

Goldenberg was hired by Dr. Phillips in 1991.

An avid learner himself, Dr. Phillips spent eight years working for his Master’s in anthropology while practicing urology. He loved animals, volunteering at the Philadelphia Zoo for four years after retirement.

“Studying anthropology was way out in left field, but like all things he put his heart and soul into it,” Deborah said. “When he retired in 2010 I thought maybe he was going to go on digs, but he started teaching.”

In 2011, Dr. Phillips joined the adjunct staff at Rowan College at Burlington County, teaching anatomy and philosophy courses. He was beloved by coworkers and students, his supervisor Laura Ritt said.

He was a mentor to Kevin Wright, a 44-year-old whose nontraditional educational journey led him to becoming valedictorian at RCBC and later to pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner.

“It’s been sad to tell everyone here he died,” Ritt said. “He just was a wonderful man who I think ended up loving teaching here.”

Mr. Phillips is survived by his wife, three children,  four grandchildren, and one sister.

Services were held April 4 at Joseph Levine & Sons Memorial Chapel, 4737 Street Road, Trevose, Pa., 19053. Burial was held at Roosevelt Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia And Lymphoma Societyof America or the Pennsylvania ASPCA. Condolences can be sent to the funeral home at the above address.

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