OSAGE | Adrene Phillips, who grew up in an African-American home in Durham, North Carolina, proves thankfulness can be developed through all circumstances and gratitude depends less on our good fortune and more on our determination to be thankful.
“We didn’t get a lot, but we got what we needed when we were kids. We were fed sufficiently, and my dad provided for us, but we didn’t get an abundance of toys. Mom sewed and made us girls clothes. She crocheted, knitted, and made quilts.” Phillips said. “We learned that if we wanted something we had to work for it.”
Phillips, who was the fourth of six children of Joshua and Dorothy Phillips. She said she learned to share at an early age, having two sisters and three brothers. “My parents taught us to share and give to others and to be thankful for what we had,” Phillips said. “We were taught the world doesn’t owe us anything.”
Phillips said her parents were very giving. “Dad would pick up people and bring them home for dinner. I don’t know if Mom always liked it, but he did it anyway,” she said. “Both of my parents helped people, they were very giving, both to community members and to family. Mom was a housewife and volunteered as a community taxi and our home was like a community center.”
Phillips, who was brought up in a Baptist church and attended an all-black community school, said her parents had a very strong influence on her life. “We weren’t just sent to church, but my parents went too. We had a normal childhood, where we had to attend church and attend school or we couldn’t do anything else,” Phillips said. “Those were dad’s rules.
“My dad was a contractor, who built houses. Everybody seemed to know him. He didn’t spank, but would put me on probation, and if I didn’t do what he said, he would double or triple my probation. Another thing dad would do - if you did a job wrong, he would make you tear it down and do it over again.”
When Adrene was 19 and in college, her dad died. “I went to college for two years and then dropped out, because it was a financially tough time,” Phillips said. “I then began working second shift, and attended some college courses during the day. I stayed with my mother a long time after dad’s death.”
After graduating from college, Phillips found a job at a local textile company. Her specialty was to research and develop new dye formulas
Being African-American, Phillips had to endure some discrimination on the job. But the hard work, at the local company, gave her an opportunity to move to Rochelle, Illinois, years later, and work for Caron International, which was another textile company.
“I have had my ups and downs in life, and it was especially hard when I moved to Rochelle,” Phillips said, “because I didn’t know anybody and I was lonely. That was one of the toughest times of my life.”
Phillips stayed in Rochelle for nearly two decades, then received a call from a plant manager at Phoenics Dye in Cleveland, Ohio, asking her to come work for them. The owner of Phoenics Dye eventually sold the business. Another of Phillips’ former co-workers was working at Fox River Mills in Osage, and gave her a call. “Ivan Dalrymple called me and asked if I would come to Osage and work for them,” Phillips said. “I was in middle management at Fox River Mills and basically did the same work here as I had been doing before. I retired in 2008.”
Nearly a decade later, you will find Phillips’ smile and gentile personality behind the Cedar River Complex welcome desk two afternoons a week, as she assists after-school kids and adults who are checking into the facility. She also shows her gratitude by spending hours volunteering in the community.
Though she uses a walker to get around, Phillips still displays her gracious and thankful spirit. “God is so good. He gives us more than we need, and many people don’t realize it,” Phillips said. “Although I grew up in church, and everywhere I went I attended church and was in the choir, it was my personal relationship with Christ that has made me stronger.”
Along with her Christian faith, Phillips also cherishes the strong bounds with her family. She vividly recalls how her grandad would come and stay with her family for several weeks in the fall, while helping her dad butcher hogs. Her dad would then drive her grandad back home after Thanksgiving.
“My mom’s family was strong, and I think it was in 1949 when we had our first reunion,” Phillips said. “We go to a different city each year, where family members live, and spend several days having picnics and eating together. On the Sunday before we go home from the reunion, we number from 125 to 150 family members. We attend the host family’s church. We donate to a cause for that particular congregation.”
A couple of Phillip’s favorite Bible passages may define how she obtained her gracious and thankful spirit. The words of the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 4:13 read, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength me. And from Psalms 30:4-5 “Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people. Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”