Catherine Elizabeth Phillips, 89, of West Chester, a nurse anesthetist who trained others in that field, died Monday, Nov. 7, of lymphoma at home.
Miss Phillips, known as Elizabeth, was born in Philadelphia to John A. and Mary Ellen Lynch Phillips. She was left fatherless at age 9 during the Great Depression, so her mother sent her to the Charles E. Ellis College, also called the Ellis School for Fatherless Girls.
The Newtown Square preparatory school was funded by Ellis, an early trolley magnate, and operated on the Ellis tract on West Chester Pike from 1918 to 1977.
Miss Phillips earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Villanova University and a registered nurse degree from Bryn Mawr School of Nursing, and mastered the advanced nurse anesthetist curriculum at Thomas Jefferson University.
For 40 years, she remained at Jefferson, where she was viewed as a pioneer in the field, training other nurse anesthetists.
Miss Phillips was a parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul Church, and an active member of the Hershey's Mill Players and Singers in West Chester. She enjoyed gardening, travel in the United States and abroad, and swimming at Acac Fitness & Wellness Center in West Chester.
For many years, she lived in Upper Darby before moving to West Chester in 1986.
"She was the only daughter and had five brothers," said niece Betsy Mynaugh. "She was the aunt to 31 of us. She was very smart and kept up on everything - in medicine and what was going on in the world."
After retiring, Miss Phillips took ballet lessons. She was a sparkling conversationalist, and served as the matriarch of her large extended family.
She is survived by her brothers, Joseph A. and Thomas P. Sr., and 31 nieces and nephews.
A visitation from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at SS. Peter and Paul Church, 1325 Boot Rd., West Chester, Pa. 19380, will be followed by a memorial Mass at 10:30 a.m.
Miss Phillips donated her body to science through the Humanity Gifts Registry. Inurnment will be private.
Contributions may be made to the church at the address above.