Dr. John Wilson Phillips, age 42, died on Monday, Sep. 13 at his home in Los Angeles after braving cancer with quiet courage and fortitude. John, who dedicated his formidable intellect to studying cancer as a researcher at the University of California Los Angeles, is survived by his wife Swati, his son Anand, his parents Sally and Stephen, his siblings Thomas, Tyler and Elizabeth, 11 nieces and nephews and a loving extended family including his in-laws Vandana, Shashi, Amit and Anne Pandey.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, John earned his midwestern cred growing up in Columbia, Missouri, starting each day at the crack of dawn, tending to his family’s small farm with his father and siblings. The work ethic, calm demeanor and handy agricultural know-how stayed with him even as he continued his education in New Zealand and Switzerland, followed by studying chemistry, microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at Yale and the California Institute of Technology, and medicine at UCLA. As he earned an MD PhD, John made sure to take the time to nurture a love of and unfailing critical eye for contemporary poetry, a deep loyalty to the St. Louis Cardinals, a solid foundation in music theory and jazz bass guitar, a nearly obscene expertise in bass fishing and pond management and a large and delicious repertoire of meals he loved to make for as many people as possible.

It was the big meats--think whole duck, Easter ham, osso bucco, coq au vin, the perfect rare steak and roast chicken--the neat whiskeys and the singular way he danced that helped him win over his wife, Swati. Not to mention that he was shockingly tolerant of her running commentary during television shows and movies. His natural facility for languages, including Hindi, and his deep study of how best to prepare the curries of Uttar Pradesh, India, were just gravy. He shone as a husband, brother, uncle, son, friend and most of all as a father. Thanks to his papa, Anand picked up early on a love of David Bowie, cooking, dressing colorfully and dancing.

In lieu of flowers, John’s family asks that you contribute to a college fund for his son Anand, or to a fund honoring his legacy as a teacher and mentor at UCLA. Family-only services will be held in Los Angeles and John’s hometown of Columbia, with a larger Los Angeles memorial to follow in the coming months. For details, contact johnwphillips2021@gmail.com.

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