Catherine Nelson Hood Phillips

A celebration of life service was held March 31 at First Baptist Church of Madison for Catherine Nelson Hood Phillips.

Our Heavenly Father called our precious mother, gramma, and aunt home to be with Him on Thursday, March 29, after a brave and lengthy fight against multiple myeloma. She passed peacefully into Jesus’ arms surrounded by family at her daughter’s home in Madison. Cathy was born in Vicksburg, on January 11, 1945. She was a wonderful daughter to Orley Mason and Vivian McGee Hood.

Cathy was graduated from H. V. Cooper High School in Vicksburg. She went to Mississippi University for Women her freshman year and transferred to Belhaven College her sophomore year. The love of her life and future husband, Alton, invited her to the Sigma Nu spring formal at Ole Miss in 1964. She knew after that weekend, that he was her soul mate, chosen by God as her gift. She and Alton married on June 26, 1965. They moved to Virginia for him to attend law school in Lexington. She worked at Virginia Military Institute supporting Alton while he studied. They met every day at home for lunch.

Cathy always wanted to be a mother and she excelled at raising her four children. She was a prayer warrior and taught her children to take everything to the Lord: problems, praises, and deepest concerns. She told her children to talk with Jesus about everything going on in their lives. Many times friends would bring prayer requests to Cathy because they felt, “She had a direct line to heaven.”

Cathy and Alton started the young married couples class at Broadmoor Baptist Church when the church was on Northside Drive. They spent many hours with the youth and went on long bus trips with them chaperoning choir tours and mission trips. Her love of children continued as she taught Sunday School to third and fourth-graders for many years, most recently at First Baptist Church of Madison. She and Alton opened their home for many Sunday school parties for children, youth, and adults, spreading the love of Jesus in tangible ways.

Everyone who met Cathy, fell in love with her. Her longtime friend, Frank Pajerski, referred to her as being, “As beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.” Her gentle spirit and love of the Lord spilled out through her big, beautiful smile. She adored her eight grandchildren. They were her heart’s delight.

Cathy is survived by her three daughters and one son. Allison and Charlie King, their children, Phillips, Mason, Allie; Ashley and Stephen Payne, their children, Caroline, Thomas, Annabel; Whitney and Ryan Irving, their children, Nelson and Shepard; son, Cary Alton Phillips, II.; sister-in-law Mary Ann Hood; nephews Hunter and Tucker Hood; brother-in-law Gerald Calhoun Phillips; four more nieces and nephews; and eight great-nieces and nephews.

Cathy was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Cary Alton Phillips; brothers Howard Allison Hood and Orley Mason Hood; and brother-in-law, Ary Caldwell Phillips Jr.

Memorials may be made to the Steps for Shep Foundation in honor of her youngest grandchild, Shepard Jackson Irving, who battles cystic fibrosis online at or mailed to Steps for Shep, 105 Linden Cove, Madison, Miss. 39110.

Burial was at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg.

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