Services for Wilbur L. Phifer, 101, of Lufkin, were held at 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, at Evans Chapel United Methodist Church on FM 977 west of Leona. Interment followed at the Evans Chapel Cemetery. Mr. Phifer passed away Saturday, Jan. 26, at a local hospital.
Wilbur was born Oct. 22, 1917, in Leon County, to Luna (Hodges) and Walter Loys Phifer. He attended Lon Morris College, where he met his wife, Jennie Mae Bonner, and Sam Houston State Teachers College, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agriculture. He taught high school agriculture in Frankston, then worked for Purina Chows and Nutrena Mills, and ran his own feed store, Phifer’s Farm & Ranch Supply. Because of his teaching credentials, he was asked to fill a vacancy left during the school year in a small, rural school district, and he was hooked. He sold his feed store, returned to college for elementary teaching credentials, and taught various elementary grades in Jacksonville until his retirement.
While teaching and after retirement, Wilbur and Jennie Mae, a teacher herself, spent many summers “RV-ing” on the Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison, Colo., where they made many loyal friends. Wilbur, an avid fisherman, delighted in catching kokanee salmon, which Jennie Mae delighted in canning.
Wilbur served as a master sergeant in the Army Air Corps in World War II, leading two ground crews of airplane mechanics. His leadership, expertise, and immaculate work ethic resulted in their unblemished reputation.
Wilbur was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of 66 years; his siblings, Joyce Gwendolyn Phifer Longbotham and Ernest Carl Phifer; and nephews, Marcus Tyler Longbotham and Brian Wilton Bailey.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Lou Phifer Bailey; his daughters, Ann Phifer (Juan) Reyes and Kay Phifer (Jerry) Morton; his grandchildren, Russell Leath Moore, Paul Michael Moore, Richard Eagan (Jennifer) Morton, and Kathryn Ann Morton (John IV) Millikan; his great-grandsons, Henry Richard Morton and Thomas Benton Millikan IV; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers were Dwight Phifer, Forrest Phifer, Royce Keeling, Dwayne Parrish, Russell Moore, and Paul Moore. Honorary pallbearer was Marcellus Parrish.
Even at the age of 101, “D,” as he was lovingly known by family, still took pride in making pancakes most mornings. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by family, friends, and former students.
Services were in the care of Madisonville Funeral Home. www.madisonvillefuneralhome.com.