Attorney Barry Phillips didn’t speak until he was ready, and when that time came, he used an economy of words.
“Unlike many of us, Barry didn’t talk until he had something to say,” said Miles Alexander, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton and a long-time friend.
Mr. Phillips was contemplative when answering questions, so when his response came, people listened. Once, during a phone conversation, a client of Mr. Phillips waited nearly two minutes to get an answer.
“Barry gave a very articulate answer,” Mr. Alexander said, with a laugh. “But there was silence on the phone for 1 minute and 40 seconds.”
Barry Phillips of Atlanta died Monday at home of congestive heart failure. He was 82. A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. His body has been cremated and his ashes were buried during a private family service. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.
A native of Valdosta and an Army veteran, Mr. Phillips began practicing in 1954, after earning his law degree from the University of Georgia. He joined the firm Smith, Kilpatrick, Cody, Rogers & McClatchey, now known as Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. He stayed there 43 years and during that time made partner and was chairman of the firm for 12 years.
Mr. Phillips specialized in banking, financial transactions, and mergers and acquisitions.
When an attorney was needed to help Atlanta prepare for its 1996 Olympics bid, Mr. Phillips got the call. As the chairman of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, his signature is on the city’s contract to host the Games, along with then-Mayor Maynard Jackson, according to his law firm.
Though he did not remain chairman through the Olympics, his legal guidance was key early on, said Susan Cahoon, a long-time friend and law partner.
“Barry, with the help of some other corporate partners, helped develop the legislation to create the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority,” Ms. Cahoon said. “That was the legal vehicle for signing the long-term commitments to host the games.”
Mr. Phillips is remembered by his colleagues, including Mr. Alexander and Ms. Cahoon, as a great lawyer, family man and friend.
“Many who saw Barry on the surface saw he had a toughness that seemed a little intimidating, but there was another side to Barry,” Ms. Cahoon said.
Mr. Phillips’ other side was most often seen by family and close friends, said his daughter, Mary Grace Phillips Reaves of Atlanta. “At home we knew he was coming from a sincere desire for excellence,” she said. “And in that he was gentle and loving and good.”
Also surviving are his wife of 54 years, Grace Greer Phillips of Atlanta; three sons, Barry Phillips Jr. and John Greer Phillips, both of Atlanta, and Quinton Braddock Phillips of Watkinsville; and five grandchildren.