Burnie James “B.J.” Philips, 85, of Gonzales, passed away Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. B.J. as he singularly known, was born April 16, 1934 in La Grange to Walker Lemuel Philips and Christina Kadlecek Philips. B.J. was a graduate of Gonzales High School. He married Mary Lois Allen on June 18, 1955 in Yoakum and was inducted into the U.S. Army on Oct. 11, 1956. B.J. served his country with great pride and was honorably discharged on Oct. 10, 1958. He was a member of St. James Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus Chapter 5090.
For the first half of his working career, B.J. helped build roads and bridges in the Gonzales area. Initially for the state of Texas, then for a private contractor, and finally, for the city of Gonzales. It is interesting, the items that are dug out of the earth during such projects. One of the finds B.J. liked to bring home was petrified wood. After many years of doing so, he had quite the collection of fossilized logs. Some were so heavy that, to this day, they lay where they were dumped out of his work truck.
After retiring from building streets, B.J. turned to his true passion: raising cattle. He spent many hot and dusty days on a tractor. Many cold and windy days putting out hay. All for the best payday he could imagine. Leaning against his truck, watching the sun go down and listening to the lowing of his cattle as they crunched their feed all around him.
B.J. was the type of man that, if you sustained an injury, his sound medical advice was to rub a little dirt on it, and if bleeding, use a mostly clean rag. He was also fearless. Once, when a brush pile was not burning to his satisfaction, he grabbed a can of diesel, jumped onto the pile to add more fuel to the flame, and as it roared to life, pronounced “now that’s a fire!”
B.J. worked with his hands his entire life. No gloves, no hand moisturizers, no manicures. They were rough, they were calloused, they were strong. Countless memories have been shared about shaking his hand. Not something that most forget. Those same hands could be gentle while cradling his newborn great-granddaughter. Imagine the hands of a certain carpenter and the stories they must be sharing.
On weekday mornings, he could often be found drinking coffee and swapping stories with friends. On Saturday mornings, he could nearly ALWAYS be found at the cattle auction. Same unofficially, self-assigned seat every time. For him, it wasn’t about buying or selling, it was about fellowship.
The coin. The man. THE FATHER. B.J. carried a silver coin as a pocket piece. When he first put that coin in his pocket, it was shiny, new and full of promise. Just like the man. Through the years, that coin started to wear down, edges became softened and worn. Just like the man. Sometimes, that coin was taken for granted. Just like the man. Just like THE FATHER. Sometimes, it was forgotten about. Just like the man. Just like THE FATHER. Sometimes, it was nice to hold onto, a reminder that it was still there. Just like the man. Just like THE FATHER. Even after being worn smooth, what remained was still precious material. Just like the man, just like THE FATHER.
B.J. is survived by his loving family, daughter and son-in-law, Brenda Philips Ckodre and Clayton of Schertz, son and daughter-in-law, Brian James Philips and Sandra of Gonzales, sister, Jeannette Boutwell of Houston, brothers, Leslie Philips and wife Catherine of Houston, Mike Philips of Corpus Christi, grandchildren, Jeremy Philips, Jenna Philips Lamb “Will”, Keeley Ckodre Gesch “Jordan”, Cullen Ckodre and Corbin Ckodre, great-grandchild, Taryn Gesch. He was preceded in death by his adoring wife Mary Lois Philips, parents, sisters, Evelyn Pickering, Patricia Dalton, brothers, William, Frank, and Wilber Lee Philips.
A holy rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in the Seydler-Hill Funeral Chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, Jan. 27, 2020 in St. James Catholic Church with Fr. Stan Fiuk as celebrant. Interment will follow in St. James Cemetery. Pallbearers: Jeremy Philips, Will Lamb, Cullen Ckodre, Corbin Ckodre, Jordan Gesch and Michael Allen. Honorary pallbearers: Jess Linscomb, Billy Breitschopf, Kenneth Fink and Tom Orr. Memorials may be made to the Knights of Columbus, Heart to Heart Hospice Foundation, the Texan Nursing Home of Gonzales or the American Cancer Society. Friends may leave their condolences by visiting www.seydlerhillfuneralhome.com. Services are under the care and direction of Seydler-Hill Funeral Home.