President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the campus community on December 17, 2020:
With deep sadness, I write to share the news that Public Safety Shuttle Driver Joseph J. Phillips died Tuesday at age 57 of a brain aneurysm.
Joe, who worked for the College for 12 years, is survived by Trish, his wife of 31 years; sons Tim, Brendan, and Joey; three brothers; and many nieces and nephews. I invite you to read more below about Joe and his contributions to our community.
In Honor of Shuttle Driver Joseph Phillips
The Swarthmore community lost an ebullient and dedicated staff member when Joseph J. Phillips, a Public Safety shuttle driver, died unexpectedly on Tuesday, Dec. 15, from a brain aneurysm. He was 57.
Phillips, known on and off campus by his friends as “Porkchop,” had driven for the College on the 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift since coming to Swarthmore in 2008. His colleagues remember him as a spirited individual who brought joy and humor to every interaction and department event.
“Joe was a quintessential Ridley guy — always quick with a joke and with a good heart,” says Director of Public Safety Mike Hill. “Our hope is that drivers connect with community members even in the few minutes they are together. Joe was always very genuine and engaging.”
Public Safety Officer Kathy Agostinelli remembers Phillips for his gregarious nature and says he was excited about his new role helping the community through the Stars and Stripes, an organization affiliated with a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter that supports members of the U.S. military and first responders.
“Porkchop was very social and loved people,” she says. “It was as if he knew everyone.”
Phillips grew up in Ridley Township and graduated from Ridley High School in 1981.
In addition to the College, Phillips worked for many years for Delaware County as a driver for the community service transport. An avid local sports enthusiast, he supported Ridley Area Little League, Monsignor Bonner High School baseball, and Ridley JR ABA, which helps children develop basketball as well as life skills. He also coached Interboro High School softball and frequently attended Ridley High School football games with his family.
“Joe’s joy of life was contagious,” says Public Safety Office Manager Mary Lou Lawless. “He had such pride and joy in his family; there was always a story or an update that was followed by his great laugh. Joe represented his Ridley spirit with an enthusiasm that was impressive.”
Fellow shuttle driver Robert Bennett, who worked with Phillips for nearly 10 years, says he found him to be a good friend, loving husband, devoted father, and steady supporter of the community. “He was always going to fundraisers, for Ridley and Bonner-Prendie [Archbishop Prendergast High School],” he says. “He would always say something to make you laugh, and he would do anything he could to help you. I’m going to miss him. There will be a void.”