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Gerard Grant Phillips

Longtime public servant, political consultant passes away at 55

Native Detroiter worked with city, county and many of the state’s political hopefuls

DETROIT — Gerard Grant Phillips, a longtime public servant and political consultant with a larger-than-life personality, died Sunday, May 8 at Detroit Receiving Hospital due to complications from pneumonia. He was 55.

Over the course of a 35-year career, Phillips helped to elect dozens of political hopefuls, ranging from President Bill Clinton and former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm to Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. He also carved out a successful career in government at the county and city levels. Most recently he operated his own political consulting business, The Consultant Authority.

A native Detroiter, Phillips graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in political science and business administration. His first political job was as a staffer for former Detroit City Councilman David Eberhard, but he cut his organizing teeth under Mayor Young.

“Gerard Phillips was an irresistible combination: hard-working and fun-loving. He would go all-out to organize a grass roots campaign, and his infectious laugh and generous spirit would engender love and loyalty,” said former Gov. Granholm. “Gerard was active in all of my campaigns, and today Dan and I are both grateful and sad. His life was too short, and he will be missed.”

Known for calling people by their first, middle and last name and his trademark bushy mustache, Phillips generally made friends with everyone he met.

“Gerard was a true friend — the epitome of ‘my brother’s keeper,’” said Eddie McDonald, a longtime friend of Phillips. “Gerard didn’t meet any strangers; he was a fine human being who loved life and life loved him back.”

An avid sports fan, Phillips was loyal to the U-M athletics program and the Detroit Lions. His knowledge of World War II history was only surpassed by his mental library of music, and the late Jackie Wilson was one of his favorite artists.

He is survived by his wife Kim (Redd) Phillips; his sister, Renee Matteson; two sons, Gerrard Phillips, Jr. and Aaron Phillips; a daughter, Christina Shelton; two grandchildren and nieces and nephews. The service was held Friday, May 13 at Saint Leo’s Parish, 4860 15th Street in Detroit.

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