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The Rev. Leon Phillips spent almost 50 years ministering to the people of Whitfield County.

After his retirement from the pulpit, he served the community for six more years as a member of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, a position he was well suited for, according to friends.

“Like he said one time, ‘Commissioning is nothing after you’ve been a preacher for 47 years,’” said Mike Babb, the current board chairman who served with Phillips from 1997 to 2002. “He was used to dealing with a wide range and assortment of people. He had that listening ear, he had a good business sense and he had a good heart for the needs of the people. He loved the community and his family. There are just not enough good things to say about Mr. Phillips.”

Phillips passed away on Saturday. He was 81.

Phillips arrived in Dalton from Atlanta in 1970 to become pastor of East Morris Street Church of God. The church later relocated to Underwood Street and was renamed Dalton Church of God. Phillips also was the founding pastor of Pathway Christian Academy, which served the community for 28 years. Phillips retired in 1994 after 47 years of ministry, 20 at Dalton Church of God. He then moved into public service.

Babb said Phillips was particularly concerned with the plight of senior citizens. He was also a member of the board that saw the passage of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that extended water throughout the county, built a new jail and renovated the courthouse.

“That board of commissioners basically had all the same goals in mind,” Babb said.

Services are today at 5 p.m. at CrossPointe Christian Centre. The family will receive friends there from 4 to 5 p.m.

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