Sep 11, 2015


With profound sadness and the utmost respect, we share the news that Larry Phillips passed away late this afternoon, September 11, 2015. His loss is felt throughout the globe, as it is here in our community that we are so fortunate he called his home.

Upon moving to Boca Raton in 1993, Larry Phillips immediately became a driving philanthropic force in the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County community, where he has left an unparalleled legacy. His compassion knew no bounds as his generosity and leadership reached deep and wide.

While continually helping our Jewish family when and where most needed, Larry was also dedicated to building a financially secure future for our community. One of the Federation’s very top donors, he was an inaugural member of the Ketubah Society that recognizes those with cumulative Annual Campaign gifts of $1 million or higher. He also endowed his very significant annual gift in perpetuity and designated other commitments to care for our community and our people for generations to come.

Larry served on the Federation Executive Board, becoming a Director Emeritus. He also served on the Jewish Community Foundation Board, where he was later named an Honorary Trustee, as well as on the board of the JCC. He had also spearheaded a successful effort to “burn the mortgage” of the Federation’s Siemens Campus, and named the Larry and Roxane Phillips Gymnasium at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center.

At the same time, Larry enthusiastically engaged in helping the community hands-on. He took great joy from founding the sumptuous Annual Thanksgiving Banquet on the Federation campus for local residents unable to afford or prepare a festive meal. For years he bustled among the tables, avidly greeting and serving with honor the primarily senior guests and encouraging up to a hundred volunteers of all ages. He beamed as, by garnering more support, he saw the dinner grow to the feast for 736 that it is today in the JCC gym, with live entertainment, dancing and ample leftovers to take home.

Quickly becoming a warm, inspiring and enduring presence at a wide array of events and programs at Federation and its beneficiary agencies, Larry was also instrumental behind the scenes. He radiated as he worked the phones as well as the room at Super Sundays. His move to St. Andrews Country Club, where he chaired the Men’s Campaign for many years, has been heralded as a key to its development as a pivotal community of Federation support. Soon, he had joined the JCC Board, and Federation’s Campaign Management Team, as well as Committees for Major Gifts Events and Shomrim Galas, one of which he co-chaired and generously underwrote. Larry also helped establish the Jewish Women’s Foundation, as a longtime generous underwriter.

Larry was deeply concerned with the dignity and well-being of local seniors. In recent years, he made a considerable gift to Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) for the new Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center. He had earlier established an endowment fund to pay for the annual JFS volunteer recognition luncheon, and significantly enabled the agency to provide financial assistance through the Hebrew Free Loan Society.

And Larry was also committed to sustaining Jewish life among the younger generations. Recognizing the importance of building young adults’ affinity to his beloved Israel, Larry’s annual support of Birthright served as a beacon to others. He supported the Wexner Heritage Program to prepare the community’s future leaders and established a very substantial scholarship field of interest endowment fund for Donna Klein Jewish Academy. In recent years, he helped launch PJ Library in South Palm Beach County for young families.

When a Federation mission traveled to Cuba in American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) early years there, the profound privation in food, medical care, housing, etc. inspired him to get involved with the Federation system’s overseas efforts. In addition to his other remarkable international work, Larry’s substantial gift sustained an orphanage in the Former Soviet Union for some time, and he served on the Federation’s Israel and Overseas Committee for ten years.

Larry’s unsurpassed efforts and contributions earned him the Federation’s Jim Nobil Community Leadership Award. Through his character, his caring and his philanthropy, Larry’s humanitarian impact was global; he left the world a far better place in a multitude of ways. The South Palm Beach County Jewish community is and will remain immeasurably stronger, more benevolent and vibrant because he chose to call it home.

He will be deeply missed and always remembered, by those who knew him personally as well as through his endeavors, as a champion among heroes.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his sister, Carol, his children, Laura and David (Sarah), and his grandchildren Maya, Tara, Sasha and Joey. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may Larry’s memory always be for blessing.

Donations in Larry’s memory may be made to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.