Ever since he was a young boy, Chris “Cowboy” Phillips knew he wanted nothing more than to be a firefighter. Starting at the age of 15, he worked diligently toward that goal. In 1991, he joined the Tyro Rural Fire Department as a junior firefighter, actively trained and responded to calls with the department, and earned his nickname, “Cowboy.” As he was not old enough to drive at the time, whenever a call was dispatched he would leave his home about 500 yards from the department while still pulling on his turnout gear and sprint at a full run to the department, often times beating others there. He was driven; his passion for his calling had no end.
In 1996, Chris joined the Churchland Fire Department as a volunteer and was also hired by the City of Lexington, North Carolina, as a full-time firefighter for the city. Throughout his time with the Lexington Fire Department, Chris continued his education and would take all the classes he could to learn more. Although Chris decided to leave the fire department in 2007 to work at Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, his passion and love of the fire service continued. He stayed active as a volunteer at Churchland Fire Department, where he was named Firefighter of the Year in 2009.
In 2007, Chris married the love of his life and best friend, Elisabeth. While they were complete opposites in every way, their love was one of a kind and evident to anyone who saw them. In 2011, Chris and Elisabeth welcomed a beautiful baby girl, whom they named Lillian. Chris was the most amazing and actively involved father, often taking his daughter to the fire department and spending as much time with her as he possibly could. They had a very special bond. He called her his “mini me,” and she called him her “Dadda Man.”
While Chris was still actively involved with his community, serving as a mentor to younger firefighters and staying involved with training to make sure it was taught correctly and safely, full-time firefighting was calling him again.
On July 14, 2015, Chris was hired at Locke Township Fire Department as a full-time lieutenant. At 41 years old, he was once again doing what he was called to be, a firefighter! While he was only with the department a short time before his death, he touched many lives and loved the department dearly.
Surviving are his wife, Elisabeth, and daughter, Lillie; his parents, Carl L. Phillips, Sr. and Deborah Phillips; other extended family; his best friends, Michael Everhart and Ryan Swink; and all in the community that knew and loved him.