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Community remembers Judge Phillips
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Richard Phillips, seated center, with Frank Middleton, left, and several other friends. - photo by Photo provided.
Long County State Court Judge Richard Phillips, 71, died Thursday at his home in Ludowici.
Phillips was a lifelong resident of Ludowici and many area residents say they will remember him fondly.
First District Congressman Jack Kingston said, “Judge Phillips was an institution in Long County and will be missed throughout the community and our state. His dedication to justice and the law was truly inspiring.”
Long County Clerk of Court Frank Middleton attended school with Phillips and knew him for several decades.
“Richard was a close friend of mine. We used to do a lot of hunting and fishing together years ago,” Middleton said. “He was a pillar of the community and had friends far and wide. He will be missed here and in the surrounding areas.”
Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles said he spoke to Phillips on Thursday. Nobles said  even though his friend had been sick, he was in good spirits. “When I talked to him, he was upbeat and sounded good,” the sheriff said.
Nobles praised Phillips as an attorney and a judge. “Richard was a super-good lawyer, there is no doubt about that. But what a lot people don’t know is Richard helped a lot of people by representing them, even if they didn’t have any money.  Richard took on many a case without ever being paid a dime.”
Long County Magistrate Judge Brenda Wingate said that even though Phillips was very busy, he always made time to help her when she needed it.
“He was a wonderful person and a pleasure to work with,” she said. “If I ever needed any help with my job, he always was willing to help.”
Long County Probate Court Judge Marie Middleton, who worked for Phillips early in her career, said he was her mentor.
“He was one of the best friends I ever had. I know I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now if it hadn’t been for him giving me a job 30 plus years ago,” she said. “He was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known and there were not many people who called on him that he didn’t help. I know I’ll certainly miss him,”
Phillips, who graduated from Long County High School, was class president and valedictorian.  After high school, he attended and graduated from the University of Georgia’s Lumpkin Law School.
He began practicing law in 1962, and some of his civic activities included serving as the president of the Atlantic Judicial Bar Association and the clerk of the Long County Commission and the city of Ludowici.
At the time of his death, Phillips was the attorney for the Long County Board of Education and the city of Ludowici. He served as the Long County state judge since 1964.
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