By Alison Wayner
Ohio University alumna Joan "Jody" Galbreath Phillips, who described her appointment to her alma mater's Board of Trustees in the tumultuous 1970s as both an honor and an obligation, died Monday in Columbus. She was 83.
Born Oct. 28, 1924, Phillips was the daughter of John W. and Helen Mauck Galbreath. John was an Ohio University trustee for 26 years. Ohio University's Helen Mauck Galbreath Chapel was built in memory of her mother, a 1919 alumna.
Philips earned her bachelor of science degree in education from the university in 1946. She was married to the late J. Wallace "Wally" Phillips, whom the university named an honorary alumnus in 1983.
In 1974, Jody Phillips became the first woman ever to chair the Ohio University Board of Trustees and was just the second woman to serve on the board. At the time she was named, she told her father, "The appointment is not only an honor, but an obligation. I'm not about to let fear of problems deter me from it."
Phillips served on two presidential search committees for the university, leading to the naming of Harry Crewson and Charles J. Ping as the institution's 17th and 18th presidents, respectively.
She served on the College of Osteopathic Medicine's advisory and development boards, and the college's Phillips Medal of Public Service was established by and named for Jody and Wallace Phillips.
Well-known for her support for Ohio Athletics, Phillips was the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics' largest donor. She funded the Joan and Wallace Phillips Academic Services Center in Peden Tower and permanent outdoor lighting at Peden Stadium and served as national chair of the campaign to raise funds for Peden Tower.
In February, Ohio Athletics announced the establishment of The Jody Galbreath Phillips Giving Circle, an endowment for women's athletics created in conjunction with the university's Women in Philanthropy. That same month, Women in Philanthropy presented her with the Leona Hughes Inspiration Award for her personal integrity and long-term commitment to the university.
At the ceremony celebrating that award, Ping commented, "We are deeply grateful to you, Jody, for inspiring us to join you and others in shaping the future of Ohio University. You changed our lives.
"It was your loyalty to Ohio University that first quickened my interest," he added, referring to their interaction during the presidential search process that led to his appointment. "You have been loyal to Ohio all your life, as was your father before you and your daughter is today. That loyalty is an inspiration to us all."
Phillips is survived by her four children, Dianne, Deborah, John Wallace and Cynthia. Deborah Phillips Bower graduated from Ohio University in 1973 and served as an Ohio University Foundation Board trustee from 1994 to 2003.
Funeral services are at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 25, at the First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Blvd., Columbus. Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Schoedinger Northwest Chapel, 1740 Zollinger Road, Columbus.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Ohio University Foundation and directed to funds named in Phillips' honor that support Women in Philanthropy, the College of Osteopathic Medicine or Intercollegiate Athletics. Checks (designated in memory of Jody Phillips) may be sent to The Ohio University Foundation, McGuffey Hall, Athens, OH 45701. Gifts also may be made by calling 800-592-FUND or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Secure online giving is available at www.ohio.edu/give.
This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, to correct Helen Galbreath's maiden name.