From the 1994-1995 Washington and Lee Law Dean's Report:
Tim Philipps Lives
Professor J. Timothy Philipps died in November 1994; he had retired a few months earlier after learning he had cancer. The fall issue of the Washington and Lee Law Review, published before his death, contained "A Tribute to J. Timothy Philipps," with expressions of respect, friendship, and affection from colleagues, former students, fellow law students at Georgetown University, a brother, a federal judge, the dean--16 in all.
Tim Philipps started teaching at W&L Law School 15 years ago, coming from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and, before that, West Virginia University School of Law. That means he must have taught "Timmy Tax" to more than two thousand law students. Reading the tributes, it quickly becomes clear that he taught his students much more than tax law. He taught them about things he considered part of being a lawyer responsibility, honesty, integrity, humanity. He taught them about some of the very things many observers now fear may be dwindling or disappearing altogether from the profession. And he taught them by the most effective method he knew: example.
"Professor Philipps was able to convey a desire to learn and, by his own example, to challenge students to achieve excellence in their academic pursuits," wrote Thomas Goodwin, one of Tim's students at West Virginia a quarter century ago, who now practices law in Charleston. Throughout my own studies, which included an LL.M. at Harvard Law School, Professor Philipps was, without doubt, the best professor I ever experienced."
Allan Ides, a former student of Tim's at Loyola and later a fellow professor at W&L, recalled what many others remember first about Tim: the laugh. Allan also remembered that "he would talk to us, freely and openly. About tax, about law, about life, whatever. He was frank and funny and thoroughly engaging. He was also considered one of the best teachers in a school of truly excellent teachers . . . Throughout his teaching career he has remained steadfast in his belief that students come first and that the primary function of a teacher is to teach. While others pay lip service to this idea, Tim lived it."
"He loves to teach, and it shows," echoed another colleague, one-time W&L dean Rick Kirgis. "I discovered that Tim's prowess in the classroom could create a bit of a headache for the dean . . . I would receive petitions or visits from groups of disappointed students who had been put on the waiting list for Tim's section."
Tim's brother Patrick wrote, "I truly believe that fate took Tim to Lexington, Virginia, and, more importantly, to Washington and Lee. There he came face to face with the legend of Robert E. Lee and was quite taken with Lee's definition of a 'gentleman.' Honor and duty play a prominent role in the definition, and since Tim takes extreme pride in his honesty, and his sense of duty, Lee's words were like a homecoming for him. There, in print, were Mom and Dad's 'upbringing efforts!'"
Not surprisingly, Tim's influence on students was not limited to the classroom, as another long-time friend and colleague, Roger Groot, pointed out: "Tim understands teaching to be far more than appearing at the appointed time and place prepared to present assigned material. He perceives teaching to include mentoring, tutoring, discussion, and friendship. Tim's door truly has been always open to any student, enrolled in his class or not, who needed him. In many ways, the best ways, Tim Philipps defines the teaching role at Washington and Lee."
That was written, of course, before Tim died, but the present tense applies. He seems to have conveyed to those who knew him a sense of how to live a life in which personal and professional values coincide, and that is something that will inevitably live on for many of them. He will be genuinely missed for a long time, but he will also be consciously remembered for a long time. "In the years ahead," wrote Brian Murchison, a fellow professor and longtime friend, "it will be Tim Philipps's concept of the good teacher that will continue to speak, urging us not to forget the students amidst our various preoccupations, reforms, and technologies . . . I hope we listen."