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Washington congresswoman honors late Tulsa doctor on House floor

U.S. rep. honors Tulsa doctor
Posted at 3:34 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 17:32:14-04

WASHINGTON — A U.S. congresswoman from Washington state honored one of the victims of the mass shooting on Tulsa's Saint Francis Health System campus with remarks on the House floor on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) spoke to Congress about Dr. Preston Phillips, the target of the shooter in Tulsa. Phillips lived in Jayapal's district in Seattle for eight years and worked at Swedish Medical Center before coming to Tulsa to work at Saint Francis.

His daughter is on Jayapal's legislative counsel in Washington, D.C.

Here are the congresswoman's remarks from Wednesday:

I rise today to honor Dr. Preston Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gracious and loving husband, father, and brother who dedicated his life to his family and his medical practice. Earlier this month Dr. Phillips was murdered during a tragic mass shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by a shooter who purchased an AR-15 two hours before the shooting. Nothing we can say can bring back a devoted father who did so much to save the lives of others as a doctor. And nothing will ease the pain of his wife and three children who have to bury him far too soon. My heart goes out to all the families of the four people killed and the community in Tulsa that still grieves.

This tragedy has also struck close to home for me. Dr. Phillips was the father of Elise Phillips, a valued member of my staff here in DC, who has spent the last year tirelessly serving the people of Washington’s 7th Congressional District as my legislative counsel. I and our whole office grieve with Elise and her family.

This past weekend I was honored to attend Dr. Phillips’ funeral service in Tulsa at the invitation of the family. It was immediately clear to me what an exceptional community Dr. Phillips and his wife, Melody, had built around themselves over their life together. Everyone I met described him as a man of extraordinary warmth and compassion.

Dr. Phillips came from humble beginnings and his life is a testament to what can be accomplished with determination. He got his first job at the age of 8, shining shoes and gathering shopping carts. He used this money to pay for veterinary bills for his family’s dog, Blackie.

In high school, he discovered his love for medicine and focused on his studies with great dedication. Dr. Phillips was then granted admission to Emory University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degrees in Religion and Chemistry and a master’s degree in Organic Chemistry. He continued his education at Harvard Medical School, and then completed his residency at Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Phillip’s began his formal medical career in Seattle in 1997. He practiced in Seattle for eight years before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I want to convey how proud Seattle is of Dr. Phillips and his significant contributions to our community. During his career, Dr. Phillips emphasized giving back to his community. At Yale, he founded the Yale Minority Medical Association. This association focused on recruitment, mentorship, and retention of minority students in the medical field. His generosity was boundless, and he touched countless lives here and abroad. A prime example were his annual trips to Togo to perform pro bono surgeries for underserved communities where a clinic’s operating room bears his name.

For many of his patients, Dr. Phillips was not just a medical professional but family. Throughout his decades of orthopedic practice his patients became informal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and lifelong friends for himself and his three children whose childhoods were defined by these relationships. I met so many of them at the funeral service.

Even more so, his son and two daughters were defined by living in a household where love, warmth, and patience were the norm from Dr. Phillips and his wife, Melody. I and all those I represent have benefited from their love and warmth, both during his time practicing medicine in Seattle and through his brilliant daughter, Elise. I am incredibly grateful to have Elise as a part of my DC staff and I see in her the same virtues that made her father such a respected and loved man in his community.

Those at Dr. Phillips’ asked me to ensure Congress passes sensible gun reforms to honor the life of Dr. Phillips and do all we can to ensure tragedies like this never happen again. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Our Kids Act, a lifesaving package of gun safety legislation to raise the age of purchase for assault rifles to 21, control the sale of “ghost guns”, limit the number of rounds in a magazine, and require the safe storage of firearms.

Legislation won’t bring Dr. Phillips or the thousands of gun violence victims back. But I hope that it brings a degree of comfort to Dr. Phillips’ family and all the families of the ones we lost that we in Congress will not stop until we bring an end to the gun violence crisis that has plagued our country for far too long.

Rest in power and peace, Dr. Preston J. Phillips.

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