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Former YMCA director passes away

Amanda Phillips, former executive director of the Greenville YMCA, passed away on Sunday.

She was 54.

Phillips worked at the YMCA for 16 years and served as the executive director of the YMCA since 2003. She retired on Friday.

“She was the heart and soul of the YMCA here,” said Allen Stephenson, who serves on the YMCA board of directors. “She was such a giving person. She just gave out. I think we’d all like to say that we burned out doing good, and she did.”

Joann Matthews, a former employee at the YMCA, said working with the children at the YMCA meant everything to Phillips.

“Her heart was all about children,” she said. “She loved the children at the YMCA and she loved YMCA football. Being there and being around those children meant the world to her. The impact she had on the children and the staff at the YMCA was tremendous. She will be greatly missed.”

Stephenson called Phillips “the perfect person” to direct the city’s YMCA.

“She was so passionate about children,” he said. “She loved them. She was a tremendously compassionate person. That’s what I’ll remember most about her. She loved people, and she had a great enthusiasm about the work she was doing. There’s no question that she will be missed by our entire community.”

Ann Steiner Gregory’s oldest child was in daycare at the YMCA for four years. During that time, Gregory said she saw firsthand how much Phillips loved children.

“Her love of children of all ages was obvious,” Gregory, who served on the YMCA board of directors, said. “She was dedicated to doing what was best for them, and she wanted to do it the right way. Her heart was all in it. If it had something to do with kids, it meant something to her. This is a devastating loss.”

Phillips was also instrumental in Butler County’s Achiever Award, which recognizes one male and one female student athlete from area schools who not only excel in the classroom and on the playing field, but are also involved in church and the community.

“This year when Amanda was sick and unable to be as involved as she was in years past, it became obvious who was really behind the Achiever Award,” said David Hancock, who serves on the Achiever Award Committee. “There are a lot of people who do a lot, but Amanda was the glue that held it all together. She was just a special, special lady.”

Anthony Bargainer, who served with Phillips on the Achiever Award Committee, said the thing he will remember most about Phillips is how her love for children motivated everything she did.

“She always had a loving heart for the children of our community, and you could see that in the way she served with the Achiever Award and at the YMCA,” he said. “She put all of her heart and energy into everything she did, and she’ll certainly be missed.”

Keith Taylor, a member of the Achiever Award Committee, said Phillips was one of the “most kindhearted people” he’s ever known.

“Her heart was as big as a basketball,” he said. “There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for the children. She always put them first, whether it was the Achiever Award or at the YMCA. This is just a sad loss for the community that she died so young. I hate it. She’ll be missed.”

Hancock said that even in the most stressful of times, he never saw Phillips without a smile on her face.

“She never changed,” he said. “She was the same day after day after day. She was just a sweet person. I always enjoyed being around her. She’ll be missed.”

Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Francine Wasden said Phillips had a tremendous impact on the community.

“I along with everyone at the Chamber is deeply saddened by Amanda’s passing,” Wasden said. “She had a huge impact on our community. She was a big part of the Achiever Award, the YMCA and numerous other organizations. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon echoed those sentiments.

“I loved Amanda,” he said. “She had a great heart and she did a lot of good things for our community. She loved her children. She loved Greenville. She loved kids and she loved the YMCA. This is a real sad day for our community.”

The funeral service will be held at Dunklin & Daniels Funeral Home Thursday at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Shackleville Cemetery.

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