Cover photo for Rev. Lt. Col William G. Phipps's Obituary
Rev. Lt. Col William G. Phipps Profile Photo
1942 Rev. 2024

Rev. Lt. Col William G. Phipps

June 8, 1942 — January 28, 2024

Harlingen, Texas

Rev. Lt. Col William G. Phipps, known by all simply as “Bill” passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on January 28, 2024.  Just two weeks before, he was celebrating a late Christmas and even playing cornhole with his family. He was 81 years old.

Bill was born in Welch, WV on June 8, 1942.  He grew up in Davy, WV, a coal mining town where his father, William P. Phipps was the school principal. His mother, Willie Jean Phipps was a teacher and church choir director. Bill graduated from Welch High School in 1960 and then from King College in Bristol, VA in 1964.  He married Mary Ellen Bishop on August 30, 1963. Bill knew from a young age that he was called into pastoral ministry, and upon graduating from King, he attended Columbia Theological Seminary, graduating in 1968.  He served congregations in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Florida before retiring in 2001.  Even in retirement, Bill continued to serve the church by singing in the choir, guest preaching, and administering the sacrament of Holy Communion.  He also officiated the weddings of both of his sons.

In addition to his 34 years of service to churches, Bill is a veteran who served his beloved country as a Reserve Chaplain in the US Army for 23 years.  He served stateside during the first Gulf War, attending to the needs and grief of the families of his deployed soldiers. He retired honorably from the Army on his 60th birthday holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Retired.

Bill married Nancy McSwain on November 27, 2001 in Clearwater, FL.  The couple enjoyed traveling the US and abroad until they could no longer travel with ease. They moved to Roanoke, VA in 2007, and ultimately to Harlingen, TX in 2016 to be close to family.

Bill was the life of the party.  His approach to ministry and to life was to invest in others. The churches that he served grew and were full of life and love for Jesus because of his spirit and his desire to bring others to know Him.  Both of his sons are ordained to the Gospel Ministry and have followed his example of leading others into lives of service and discipleship.  Bill had an amazing baritone voice.  Many recall watching and listening to him as he sang hymns in the church.  He faithfully held his hymnal in his hand, but never had to look at it, as the hymns of the faith were written on his heart.

Bill is survived by his wife, Nancy and his first wife and mother of their children, Ellen.  He is also survived by his sons, Brian Phipps and wife Carol of Shawnee, KS, and Marcus Phipps and wife Lisa of Harlingen, TX.  He was the proudest “GooDaddy” in the world of his 6 grandchildren, Joshua Phipps (Taylor), Hannah Welborn (Gage), Jonathan Phipps (Andi), Samuel Phipps (Madison), Caleb Phipps, and Jordan Phipps.  He was also blessed to be Great-GooDaddy to Hazel and Denver Welborn. He was beloved “Uncle Bill” to several nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister Martha Ann Shirley.  He also counts his great friends at Golden Palms among his special “family”.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Vijian Dhevan, Dr. Donald Roa, and Dr. Peter Lazzopina and the staff at Frontier Direct Care for their special care, love, and prayers, especially in his final days.  They also thank the staff and residents of Golden Palms for making Bill’s final years truly special.

A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church in Harlingen at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 5, 2024 where he will receive full military honors, followed by a reception in the Texas Room at Golden Palms. The family will receive friends and relatives from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home on Sunday, February 4th.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Disciples Made (, a non-profit disciple-making ministry developed by his son Brian, or to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rev. Lt. Col William G. Phipps, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, February 4, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home

1400 West Business 77, San Benito, TX 78586

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Celebration of Life

Monday, February 5, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church

2120 North Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen, TX 78550

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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