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Zane Sterling Phillips
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Obituary for Zane Sterling Phillips

Zane Sterling Phillips was born March 30th, I920 near Cassville, Missouri to John E. and Vada M. (Blankenship) Phillips. The first 10 years of his life were spent in various small communities in SW Missouri and NE Oklahoma as his father sought to eke out a living for his family. In 1930 the family moved back to the community of Jenkins, Missouri, a place that Zane always considered home often recounting pleasant childhood memories of fishing, hunting and swimming along the banks of Flat Creek. During this time he was attending a little one room school house known as the Hailey School where he met a little girl that would one day become his bride Lily Jane England. He would often say that Lily England was the only girl he ever wanted to marry. With the depression in full swing and money tight his dad moved the family back to Oklahoma to go to work in the oil fields. At age 15 a restless and discontented Zane jumped in the back of a 1929 Dodge Bread Wagon with his Uncle George, Aunt Phalia and 10 cousins and headed to California for the promise of a better life. Upon arrival in Sanger he went to work in the grapes for a short time but decided to join the Civilian Conservation Corps where he was assigned to Camp Boot Jack in Mariposa, and later Camp Tehachapi and Camp Isabella. The CCC Camp in Tehachapi was situated next to the famous Tehachapi Loop, where trains would pass very slowly as they pulled the steep grade. Zane loved telling stories of hopping the slow moving freight trains, riding them up to Tehachapi to go to the movies, and then hopping another freight after the movie was over and riding it back to camp.

He followed his older brother Johnny into the Army in 1938 and did his basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington. While at Fort Lewis he was assigned to the 10th Field Artillery, Battery B and was sent to Alaska where he remained after discharge in 1940 to work in the gold mines. Zane vividly remembered being in Camp December 7, 1941 when a “fella” came running through the camp shouting, “The Japs attacked Pearl Harbor! The Japs attacked Pearl Harbor!” He worked a couple more months and then headed back to the states to re-enlist and join the fight of the Second World War. Because of previous artillery experience Zane was immediately promoted to Sergeant and put in charge of a gun section. As a member of the 154th Field Artillery they boarded a ship in San Francisco and headed to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and the Island of Adak. Zane spent the next 2 years prepared for and anticipating combat with the Japanese but it never came, and so in 1944 he was sent back to the United States to help train men for the final push in the European Theatre. His assignment was Camp Chaffee, Arkansas which as fate would have it, was within a couple hour drive to his beloved Jenkins, Missouri and the little girl from Hailey School Lily England. He and Lily had been corresponding during his time in the Aleutians so Zane decided to pay Lily and the England family a visit. A romance blossomed and the couple was married June 1st, 1944 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Zane was sent to Fort Hood, Texas to continue troop training and while there, the newlywed’s first child Stephanie was born May 14th, 1945.

After the war ended Zane went to work for Standard Oil Company and the couple moved to Wasco, California where they would remain for the next 42 years raising their 5 children. Following daughter Stephanie the Phillips added another daughter Rebecca born in 1948, twins Cynthia and John born in 1953 and Scott born in 1962. Sadly a daughter Geri Kathleen died during infancy in 1947. Zane retired from Chevron in 1982 after 36 years as a Head Operator. After retirement He and Lily moved to Red Bluff, California where Zane’s younger brother Gene resided. In 1999 the Phillips decided to move back to Kern County to be closer to kids and grandkids joining their youngest son Scott and his family in Tehachapi. Zane very much enjoyed living the remainder of his life in Tehachapi. He was an active member of the Church of Christ having given his life to Christ in 1959. He was serving as an elder of the Tehachapi Church of Christ at the time of his death. He was also a life member of the VFW and served as Commander of Post 6742.

Zane was preceded in death by his first born son John England Phillips in 2007, as well as siblings John Vincent Phillips who gave the ultimate sacrifice during WW2 in the Philippine Islands, Gene Phillips and sister Blanche Berry. He lost his beloved Lily on April 19th, 2017. The complications of age and the heartache of losing his wife of 72 years finally took its toll and Zane joined Lily and his Lord and Savior in Heaven on January 10th, 2018. He fought the good fight, he finished the race and he awaits a crown of glory reserved for him. He is survived by his daughter Stephanie of Mcfarland, Rebecca of Fresno, Cynthia of Bakersfield, Scott of Tehachapi, sister Betty Eubanks of Republic, Missouri, 9 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family asks that you make a donation to the Mission at Kern County.

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11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Peters Funeral Home - Wasco

1401 7th Street
Wasco, California 93280


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