Dennis John Phillips, 67, of Charlotte, NC, passed away Thursday, April 23, surrounded by his loving family after a courageous battle against cancer.
Dennis was a big man in every sense of the word. At 6’6”, Dennis was known for his charisma, compassion, and eternal optimism. His passion for life knew no bounds. He loved spending time with his family on Hilton Head Island, traveling the globe, improving healthcare, and cheering on the Virginia Tech Hokies. He also had an innate ability to inject laughter and levity at all the right times.
Born in Norton, Virginia in 1952 to Thomas and Frances Phillips, Dennis graduated high school as a United States Senate Page, earned a Bachelors degree from Virginia Tech, and a Masters degree from the Medical College of Virginia.
In his professional and civic life, Dennis loved to lead and care for others. Dennis spent over 40 years in healthcare administration, taking pride in improving the patient experience and increasing access to care.
Dennis started his career in healthcare administration in Florida and quickly became a hospital Chief Executive Officer at the age of 27. He later relocated to Hickory, North Carolina, where he served as CEO of Frye Regional Medical Center for 17 years. For many years, Frye was a top performer for Tenet Health under Dennis’ leadership. His family recalls Dennis spending countless evenings reviewing hand-written patient experience surveys to ensure patient satisfaction.
Dennis transitioned to Carolinas HealthCare System in 2004, where he ended his career in 2017 as Executive Vice President. He was responsible for leading a number of hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and employees in the Charlotte Metro Region. Dennis was proud to be recognized with his induction into the StuderGroup Hall of Fame for Patient Experience Leadership in 2012. Colleagues will remember his honesty and respect for teammates at all levels.
Dennis also took on many civic and community duties, including Chairman of the Catawba Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the North Carolina Hospital Association, and member of Christ Episcopal Church Charlotte.
His greatest accomplishment was marrying his loving wife and best friend of over 44 years, Peggy Phillips. He is also survived by his children: Erin (Steven) Rogers, Patrick (Courtney) Phillips, and Caitlin (Jon) Gossens; grandchildren: Charlie, Jack, Francie, and Avery; brother Jeff (Crystal); and step-siblings David (Ann) Chaffins and Martha Perdue.
Above all, Dennis will be remembered for the joy he gave to everyone, his exuberant and infectious sense of humor, warmth, wit, generosity, consistency, and integrity.
Due to COVID-19 circumstances, services will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages well-wishers to donate to Levine Cancer Institute for small cell bladder cancer research or Hospice Care of the Lowcountry.