Dr. George J. ‘Jack’ Phillips, retired Towson orthodontist and amateur theater performer, dies

Dr. George J. “Jack” Phillips, a retired orthodontist who enjoyed performing in amateur theater productions at the Paint & Powder Club for 40 years, died of undetermined causes Jan. 24 at his Towson home. He was 90.

“He was an outstanding gentleman on every level. He was warm and engaging and was always interested in what his patient’s interests were,” said Dorothy M. “Dolly” Carrigan, Dr. Phillips’ dental assistant from 1967 to 1997. “And he gave his patients wonderful smiles that lasted a lifetime.”

Dr. George "Jack" Phillips collected books, coins, stamps and Civil War firearms.

George Jackson Phillips, son of Dr. George J. Phillips Sr., a dentist, and Mary Phillips, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park.

Dr. Phillips was a 1951 graduate of Friends School of Baltimore where he had been an outstanding athlete and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1955 from Amherst College where he had captained the lacrosse team.


Following in his father’s footsteps, he obtained his dental degree in 1957 from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, founded in 1840 as the first dental college in the world and now part of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

After serving two years as an Air Force dentist at the now-closed Tuner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia, Dr. Phillips completed his training in orthodontia at the Dewey School of Orthodontics in New York City, and established his private practice in 1962 on East Joppa Road in Towson Estates.

“I met Jack at the Dewey School because we were seated alphabetically and were one seat apart,” recalled Dr. Richard S. “Dick” Thall, who retired in 1998 after practicing orthodontia in Wantagh, New York.

“We became such good friends and our wives became good friends. He was a great orthodontist and had a great practice,” Dr. Thall said. “We both liked the same things and even though I have a brother, I called Jack my real brother. We had such a great friendship and I’ll miss him forever.”

“No one wants to go to the dentist, but he had a wonderful sense of humor that relaxed patients,” Ms. Carrigan said. “He also made it a relaxed place for children and made it fun for them. He was just a wonderful, wonderful man. He was gracious to his patients and dental staff and I was very proud to have worked for him.”

In 1958, he married the former Ann Cole Schwenker, an environmentalist.

Dr. Phillips, who lived in Towson Estates and later in Phoenix, Baltimore County, was a member of the Baltimore County Dental Association and served as the organization’s president in 1977.

He retired in 1997.


“A seven on the Enneagram, Jack found beauty and pleasure in all that he did,” wrote a daughter, Jennifer Cole Phillips, of Roland Park, in a biographical profile of her father referring to his score on the personality test. “From an early age, his curiosity and passion for American history led him to amass impressive book, coin, stamp and Civil War firearms collections.”

A gifted piano player and singer, Dr. Phillips also enjoyed the theater and maintained a lively interest in performing. He joined the Paint & Powder Club in 1968.

For more than 40 years, he appeared in productions of the Paint & Powder Club, that was founded in 1893, and whose annual original productions raised money for a local charity.

Bernice Ann “Bernie” Cook was one of the first female members to join the formally all-male club in 1983, where she wrote and directed plays.

“He was a good actor and singer and one of Jack’s most memorable roles was playing the Peter Lorre character from ‘Casablanca.’ I had written a spoof, ‘Rick’s Cafe,’ which was a musical comedy, and he asked to do that role. He was a dead ringer for Lorre,” recalled Ms. Cook.

“Anything Jack did was wonderful. He was simply hysterical in the drag number and had a crooning kind of voice. I always cast him singing to women. He was kind of like our Frank Sinatra,” said Ms. Cook, who previously taught music at Bel Air High School and St. Paul School for Girls.


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During the production of “Picture Perfect” Dr. Phillips suffered an accident.

“In the theater, everyone always says ‘Break a leg’ for good luck and that’s actually what Jack did in ‘Picture Perfect,’” Ms. Cook said. “He fell off the stage and broke his left leg.”

Dr. Phillips, who served as president of the club in 1983, also worked as a supernumerary in Baltimore Opera Co. productions.

An avid golfer and member of the Baltimore Country Club, he made three holes-in-one at its Five Farms golf course.

Dr. Phillips was an active member of Towson Presbyterian Church where he had been an elder and deacon.

In addition to his wife of 65 years and his daughter, Dr. Phillips is survived by two other daughters, Lanie “Geno” Antonelli of Hampstead and Joanna Glaze of Selbyville, Delaware; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Because his wife has been active in and a supporter of the green burial movement, Dr. Phillips will be given a private green burial, according to Ms. Phillips. Plans for a memorial service to be held at his church in February are incomplete.