Gillette clinic project benefits from generous gift

Minneapolis resident Dean Steven Ross Phillips, who died in April 2021, gave a generous gift of almost $1 million to […]

Dean Steven and Ross Phillips posing with 3 other men in a warehouse

Minneapolis resident Dean Steven Ross Phillips, who died in April 2021, gave a generous gift of almost $1 million to the  Gillette Children’s Foundation with a gift of nearly $1 million. The gift, which was confirmed recently, will be used to help cover the costs of renovating the Gillette Children’s Hospital clinic in St. Paul. Phillips will be honored with a plaque in the renovated facility. 

The Grand Rapids Herald and St. Paul Pioneer Press told Phillips’ story. He was living in Northeast Minneapolis at the time of his death and left no will. He was 68 years old. 
An old envelope postmarked 2013 bore some cryptic notes indicating that Phillips might have named the Gillette Children’s Foundation as the beneficiary for his 401(k) account. A family member contacted Gillette in May 2021, and found that Phillips had inquired in 2016 about the procedure for naming Gillette as a beneficiary. 

A coworker’s child had been treated at Gillette, said Leona Fitzmaurice, Phillips’ older sister.  Phillips’ heirs spent a year trying to determine his final wishes, even serving his former employer with a subpoena. They learned that the Gillette Children’s Foundation was his designated beneficiary.  Phillips was born on June 10, 1952, and grew up on 310 acres of mostly wild land in Splithand Township approximately 18 miles south of Grand Rapids. According to the Herald story, “he loved the outdoors, excelled in school, and demonstrated his artistic talents by creating unique sculptures during his early teens and then, in his later teens, designing and building cars. He attended Itasca Junior College (now Minnesota North College) where he developed an aptitude for welding, a skill that he practiced first in the shipyards of Duluth-Superior and then later in several small companies in the Twin Cities. 

He joined Caterpillar Paving Products, Inc. in 1991 as a master welder and member of a team that constructed custom-designed equipment. He earned praise for the excellent quality of his work and his strong work ethic and retired from Caterpillar in 2017 after having been employed by the company for 26 years. 

His hobbies included woodworking, sculpting in metal, marble and clay, and the restoration of vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He also restored his 1910 Minneapolis home. 

But Phillips also lived with depression and chronic pain caused by the degeneration of discs in the lumbar region of his spine. His death by suicide was a shock to his family, but his generous gift to the Gillette Children’s Foundation is one of the good things that has emerged in the aftermath of his tragic death. 

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