Eva Jean Shuler Phillips, went to be with the Lord the morning of Nov. 30, 2014. She was 70 years old. She was born in Keokee, Va., a small town nestled in the mountains of southwest Virginia on Feb. 29, 1944. Eva Jean was the daughter of the late Leonard and Mary Magdalene (Stidham) Shuler.
Eva Jean (who went by the name of Jean the majority of her life) always considered herself lucky. When she was born she was just four pounds and her daddy’s handkerchiefs were used as diapers. The doctor stopped by the house daily for a period of time to put drops in her eyes. Eva Jean was blind in her left eye since birth and every ophthalmologist that ever saw her was instantly intrigued as they could see where an infection that was spreading from her left to right eye had stopped. Praise the Lord for the doctor who came daily in the middle of winter into the deep hills of Virginia to give her those eye drops.
When she was four years old her father became ill and was home for a short period of time. During this time he taught her how to write and count. This time allowed the creation of a bond between father and daughter that lasted throughout his lifetime. Eva Jean would also share stories of swinging on grapevines, berry picking, looking for paw paws and being chased by a black bear!
Her father was a coal miner and work took them from the deep mountains in Lee County Virginia, to the small coal town of Exeter, VA located in Wise County, still in beautiful southwestern Virginia Appalachian Mountains. She took school very seriously while growing up and graduated in 1963 from Appalachia High School.
Eager to find work but not in the traditional opportunities available at the time, she and a friend moved to Indianapolis Indiana. During this time she worked at the Indianapolis Glove Company, then later at the Central Avenue Methodist church. It was in Indianapolis where she met and married the love of her life, Rufus Andrew Phillips. She stopped working so she could be a stay at home wife, and later mother. Rufus was 25 years her senior and grew up on the other side of the mountain in southwest Virginia. They married on April 7, 1967. Per her request, she will be buried wearing the yellow suit she wore at their wedding.
This loving marriage brought three daughters into this world and later a beautiful granddaughter. Daughters are Nannie Lee, Mary Frances and Sarah Caroline. All three daughters were born at St. Vincent Hospital when it was located on Fall Creek and Meridian in Indianapolis. After each daughter was born, Rufus was so excited that he would step into the delivery room after the girls were born to catch an early glimpse. Each time he was caught and would pretend that he was confused and did not realize he wasn’t allowed in there. Her granddaughter, Olivia Caroline was the apple of her eye and they had a special relationship that will forever be remembered.
While raising her young family, Rufus became ill and remained so for the rest of his life. Eva Jean was selfless and dedicated her life to the care of her children and husband. Rufus passed away July 12, 1993. Within the last few weeks of her life (21+ years after Rufus passed) she would still talk about how much she missed him.
After Rufus passed, Eva Jean began the next chapter of her life. Her career included working at Roselyn Bakery, Indiana Knitwear, Western Pacific Airline, and Shares, Inc. She worked up until the time she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1999. Although this disease was cruel, she never complained and was grateful for the time that the Lord gave her.
Eva Jean’s faith was an important part of her life and she was a Christian example to many. She was a long time member of Calvary Baptist Church, a current member of Sugar Creek Baptist Church, and most recently enjoyed attending Buck Creek Baptist Church. She sang in the church choir for over 40 years, was a Sunday school teacher, Vacation Bible School Leader, and a faithful follower of Christian based reading. She volunteered with the Hancock County Republican party for many years. Eva Jean was also heavily involved in the Masonic fraternity including, a 25 year member of the Order Eastern Star, the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Order of the Amaranth, the Daughters of the Nile, and a Member of Honor and Guardian Council Member of Job’s Daughters Bethel #23. Eva enjoyed singing, painting, reading, embroidering, crossword puzzles, traveling and she loved to laugh.
Eva Jean is survived by her daughters Nannie Lee Alldredge, Mary Frances Phillips and Sarah Caroline Wuestefeld, her lovely granddaughter Olivia Caroline, her special buddy and the son she never had, David Edward Wuestefeld, all of Greenfield. Her sisters: Louise Adams of North Carolina, and Pebble Herron of Virginia; her brothers: James (Ruthann) Stidham and Carl (Louise) Stidham of Virginia.
She was proceeded in death by her loving husband Rufus Andrew Phillips, her granddaughter Frances, her parents Leonard and Mary (Stidham) Shuler; sisters Bernice Adams, Betty Montgomery and Roxie Hartsook; brothers Paul Shuler, Rudolph Shuler, Steve Shuler and Harry Lee Shuler.
Services will be held at Flanner and Buchanan – Washington Park East. Visitation for family and friends will be from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.
The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, with Brother Billy Gott officiating. Graveside committal service will immediately follow.
Donations in Eva Jean’s name may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children or the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Please share memories at www.flannerbuchanan.com.