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Paul John Phipps

PAUL JOHN PHIPPS passed away on Feb 7 at home in Orting WA. He was born in Shady Valley TN on Nov 22, 1919, grew up in Seattle and graduated from Franklin HS. Paul and his wife Shirley Ann Ralston raised three children together. He graduated from Seattle University Cum Laude on the GI bill after serving 5 years in the Army as Sgt 1st Cl as part of the Occupation Forces in Japan. He retired from Boeing as Lead Engineer in MR&D after 41 years of service and became an accomplished and respected genealogist. He was an avid fisherman, boater, golfer, skier, and bridge player. Paul later married Eleanore A Anderson who passed away, and Ina Mae Cowherd who lives in KY. He will be remembered as a loving, caring, and generous man with a quick wit. He is survived by his wife Ina Mae; brother Edgar; children Pamela, Stephen, Gail; grandchildren Denise, Joelle, Daniel, Earlie, Thomas, Ashley; great grandchildren Hunter, Jordan, Alexandria, Shaina, Celia, Taylia, Taylor. Services with military honors will be held at 11:00am Wed Feb 15 at Tahoma National Cemetery followed by a gathering of family and friends. Donations may be made to charity of your choice.


Paul John Phipps was born in Crandull (Shady Valley, Johnson County), Tennessee on November 22, 1919 to Quincy Ahart and Margaret Jane (Bowling) Phipps. His dad was born in 1894 in Lansing, Ashe County, North Carolina, and his mother was born in 1898 in Bristol, Virginia. When Paul was a baby, the family moved to Seattle where he grew up in Rainier Valley with his younger brother Edgar and graduated from Franklin High School.

In 1940 Paul married Shirley Ann Ralston and together they raised three children, Pamela born in 1943, Stephen in 1945, and Gail in 1947. He worked for The Boeing Company as a machine operator from 1939 to 1945, when he was drafted into the Army and became part of the Occupation Forces in Japan. During his service in the Army as Sergeant First Class in the Engineer Depot, he brought his family to Yokohama on two tours to Japan. His youngest daughter Gail was born in Japan.

Paul was honorably discharged in 1950 and returned to work at Boeing while attending Seattle University on the GI bill. He once said, “At the time, I had a wife, three children, had a home, and was working full time as a supervisor at Boeing. I was so dumb I didn’t realize I couldn’t do all that at the same time.” In 1955, he received his Bachelor Degree Cum Laude in Commercial Science. After graduation he was promoted to Lead Engineer, specializing in metal forming, in the Manufacturing Research & Development Group, and retired in 1980 after 41 years of service. He once said about his career at Boeing, “Boeing was the only company I ever worked for. I was surrounded by bright young and old engineers, who constantly made me look good. It was a challenging and self rewarding job, which I really enjoyed.”

During his entire life, Paul loved the outdoors. In his younger years, he skied and hiked in the mountains of the Northwest. He was an avid fisherman and took many vacations to British Columbia, Eastern Washington, Puget Sound, and the Pacific Coast to catch his limit of trout and salmon. While living on Lake Washington in the 50’s and 60’s, he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning boats, including a speed boat for water skiing and a cabin cruiser for fishing in Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. In his later years, Paul’s outdoor interests led him to buy acreage in Black Diamond and Eatonville, where he lived and raised trout, chickens, and bees and kept a garden. He also loved to play golf and bridge.

In 1978, Paul married Eleanore A. Anderson, who passed away in 1994. In 2002, he married Ina Mae (Graybeal) Cowherd, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

During his retirement, Paul became an avid and accomplished genealogist with over 45,000 people “entombed” in his computer (named Olga). He took several trips to Tennessee to visit new found relatives, cemeteries, and historical sites. Paul said, “When I got back from that first trip in 1989, I was a hooked genealogist, and had even learned to spell the word. I bought a computer because my handwriting was so bad, even I couldn’t read it. People then started answering my letters and I was really on my way.”

Paul was well known and respected in the genealogy world. He wrote over 400 letters a year, answering queries and helping countless others in the field. Since his passing, several genealogy friends from all over the world have sent their condolences full of accolades: “Paul was a cousin many times over and helped me tremendously with research questions. He will be greatly missed.” “There are many people in this world that could certainly use and deeply appreciate the knowledge your father accumulated and the friendship that he offered freely. Not many people would go the ‘extra mile’ to find a name or date for a stranger.” “Taught me all I know and teased me until we got a pc. Heart of pure gold, a funnybone that wouldn’t quit.” “He left a wonderful legacy, and I really appreciated his generosity in sharing his interest in family.” “Your Dad was the best mentor I have ever had. Yes, he helped me so much in so many ways. I will miss him so much.” “He was a great guy…and will be missed by all of us.” “Paul helped me so much with the Phipps research…I feel privileged to have known him.” “He was one very good gentleman…He helped me find my childrens’ granddad. Much strength to you from Stuttgart Germany.” “He was a gem.” “Your father helped me a lot…He was just wonderful and very generous with his time. I loved the fact that he had a special name for his computer.” “He was the best.” “Folks, I’m very saddened to learn of the passing of cousin Paul Phipps and the possible silencing of his trusted Olga. I talked and corresponded via paper and e-mail with him for more than thirty years though we never met in person. His infectious laugh somehow sent a picture of his unseen face and his heart was ever there trying to assist his army of cousins find more of the army. We have lost a truly good soldier.” “We will really miss him and his great sense of humor.” “We will be grateful to him forever.”

Paul was a member of 20 Genealogy Societies. In 1992 he submitted his Ancestral Files on the Graybeal and Phipps lines to the Mormon Church. His genealogy philosophy in his own words: “When I started this addiction called genealogy, I promised myself I would never do a book per se. That would be work, and in my lifetime, I have done all the work I want to do. Genealogy was going to be a fun trip for me. So far, it certainly has been a fun way of life, and I love what I do. I am the captain of my ship.”

Paul will be remembered as a loving, caring, and generous man with a quick wit. He is survived by his wife Ina Mae Cowherd from KY; his brother Edgar William (Ann) Phipps; his three children: Pamela Jane Phipps, Stephen Paul Phipps, and Gail Dianne Phipps; his six grandchildren: Denise (Jeffrey) Wiskow, Joelle Phipps, Daniel (Amy) Phipps, Earlie Phipps, Thomas Phipps, and Ashley Phipps; and his seven great grandchildren: Hunter, Jordan, Alexandria, Shaina, Celia, Taylia, and Taylor; all live in the Seattle area.

A service with full military honors will be held for Paul at 11:00am on Wednesday, February 15, 2006, at the Tahoma National Cemetery, followed by a gathering of family and friends. Donations may be made to the charity of your choice.

Paul John Phipps and Elly Anderson Phipps, 1986
Paul John Phipps and Elly Anderson Phipps, 1986