he section of road connecting U.S. 79 to Neches High School will bear the name of a longtime Neches educator following a vote of the Anderson County commissioners’ court earlier this week.

The stretch of CR 346 from U.S. 79 to the Neches High School campus will become Obie L. Phillips Memorial Road in honor of the longtime educator who served the district for more than 60 years in multiple capacities, including teacher, principal, interim superintendent and school board member.

Phillips died at age 87 in July 2003.

Phillips began his education career in 1941 as a teacher at the predominantly-black Clemmons High School in Neches before becoming a principal in the Neches school system following integration in the 1960s.

After retiring from his teaching career in 1981, Phillips served on the Neches Independent School District Board of Trustees until January 2002.

The road name change was initiated by Neches Independent School District Superintendent Gary Holcomb who wrote a letter to Anderson County Judge Carey McKinney and other commissioners on Jan. 17, 2006.

“Such an action as naming this short stretch of road would be a befitting and well deserved honor and tribute for this fine gentleman who devoted his life to encouraging young people to make a better life for themselves and their children by obtaining and furthering their education,” Holcomb partially wrote to the commissioners’ court.

Following a brief discussion, commissioners voted, 4-1, to grant the road name change and post the appropriate signage.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Chaffin cast the dissenting vote, saying in open court he could foresee a “lot of problems with it.”

The county is expected to maintain the present county road signage, but place two additional signs bearing Phillips’ name near U.S. 79 and Neches High School.

In his letter, Holcomb indicated a presentation and dedication ceremony would ultimately be held if the court approved his request.

Phillips’ wife, Sadie Phillips, who taught in Neches schools for 36 years, continues to reside there.


Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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