Long time legislator Merle Phillips dead at 85
SUNBURY – Former state representative in the 108th legislative district, Merle Phillips, has died at the age of 85. Phillips died Monday morning surrounded by his family. State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver spent decades working closely with Phillips and eventually succeeded him in his post when he decided to retire.
Culver said, “I think the message I walked away with is Merle believed in giving everyone a first, a second and a third chance. He believed everybody made mistakes, everybody deserves forgiveness and if we could help somebody, it was our job to do that.”
On the personal side, Culver said, “He had a wicked sense of humor. Most people thought he was always so serious, but he definitely had a wicked sense of humor. He was just a true gentleman and a really remarkable man.”
Phillips served the 108th district from 1980 until 2010. He was also appointed as a Northumberland County Commissioner in 2010 to finish the term of State Representative Kurt Masser. Prior to his election to the State House, Phillips was the president of Irish Valley Food Processing. He also served in the United States Marine Corps for four years of active duty and two years in the reserves. He was married and had five children. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. (Ali Stevens)