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Robert Denny Phillips

June 29, 1936 — March 25, 2023

Bowie

Robert (Bob) Denny Phillips passed on Sat, March 25, 2023, at the age of 86. He leaves behind his wife Anne, his children, Bryan Phillips (Joan), Steve Phillips, Susan Varga (Doug), Jenny Phillips (Jeff Cook), as well as 5 grandchildren, Nick Varga (Lyndsay), Kaitlyn Huhn (Mike), Derek Varga (Brooke), Ryan Phillips, and Addie Cook, and great grandson, Mitchell Varga. 
 
Bob was born in Baltimore on June 29, 1936. He moved to Severna Park where he was a multi-sport athlete including football and lacrosse in high school. He attended the University of Maryland, where he became an active member of the performing Gymkhana Troop, touring as far away as Iceland. He also met and married his wife of 65 years, Anne, while attending the university. They started growing their family before Bob graduated with a BS in 1958. Bob briefly took a job with the weather bureau before an opportunity came along at a new NASA complex called Goddard Space Flight Center. He and Anne moved to Bowie, where they would plant very deep roots and remain for the rest of his life. He worked at Goddard for more than 30 years and after retirement couldn’t stay away. He continued to work with his colleagues at Goddard as a contractor with Jackson and Tull for many years before fully retiring. 
 
Bob discovered his athletic talents even before playing high school sports. He and his twin brother Bill were both swimmers. They each won the swim across the Severn, becoming the only 2 winners as the race was only held for 2 years. He would later complete the swim across the Chesapeake Bay multiple times. Bob continued to explore his athleticism, becoming a talented runner and triathlete and winning many awards along the way. He also formed some very deep friendships with the training partners he met through running, especially the Goddard crew with whom he would train at lunch. He even got his children and grandchildren involved in his racing and the family completed many triathlons, mud runs, and Turkey Trots, always finishing behind him at his prime. He ran multiple marathons, qualifying for and racing in Boston, and qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. 
 
Bob also had a love of hiking and as his career progressed he started developing a plan to hike the Appalachian Trail. After adopting the trail name "Loose Goose", his dream came true in 2001 when he completed the nearly 2200 mile hike in exactly 6 months. His status as an AT through-hiker was one of his most proud and meaningful accomplishments and he relished the opportunities to share his story any chance he got. The friendships he made along the trail were especially meaningful to him and he joined in every AT reunion and event that he could. He followed that trip with a bike ride across the United States in 2004, riding from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean and completing another amazing feat of endurance and wonder. He continued to enjoy riding his bike for many years, riding around the Chesapeake Bay and making multiple bike trips down to North Carolina along the way.
 
Bob was much more than an athlete, he was also very charitable with his time and talents. He and Anne made quite a team as she willingly stepped up to allow him time away to follow his many goals. He found many ways to give back to the community including as a Red Cross blood donor of more than 10 gallons. He also was a long time member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, helping to rebuild and then oversee the Harvey Nicholson Jones Mountain Cabin. He served as a volunteer firefighter for the city of Bowie for more than 2 decades and as a volunteer Ski Patroller at Canaan Valley and Timberline ski resorts in West Virginia for over 25 years as well. Bob also lent his talents to coaching many intramural and travel soccer teams for his children, achieving success in the development and sportsmanship of his players and coaching Sue and the Bluetoads to a perfect season and the East Coast Championships. He was truly devoted to giving his best at any activity in which he was involved. 
 
Bob was incredibly proud of his family, and truly enjoyed the many gatherings, whether small with immediate family members, or large at many weddings and reunions with extended family. He was always happy to sit down with a glass of his boxed wine and talk politics, sports, and finances, but especially loved talking about his family. He always kept up with everyone's challenges and accomplishments. However, we all suspect that the true highlight of his life may just have been his dog Katie. She captured his heart as they took endless daily walks together in the woods behind the house. We can only imagine the reunion they shared when they found each other once again. 
 
We already miss Bob/Loose Goose/Dad/Pop Pop. He was such an important and integral part of so many of our lives. Plans are being made for a celebration of Bob’s life to be held in the future, date and location yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please consider making a donation to a charity of your choice in Bob's memory or to the Hospice of the Chesapeake which provided much needed care and comfort to Bob and his family.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Denny Phillips, please visit our flower store.

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