Carmen Phillips, 80, returned to her heavenly home on February 28, 2017, after complications following a fall. Her devotion to her family and her unshakeable belief in God was evident throughout her life touching many hearts in the process.
Carmen was born in Norfolk, VA, on March 4, 1936, to Mildred and Wayne Keeter. She was immersed in the Christian community from an early age, and those early beginnings would grow into a worldwide influence for her Savior. She attended Granby High School in Norfolk, VA, and was an accomplished pianist for the Talbot Park Baptist Church. A common interest in music brought Carmen together with LT James Copenhaver, Sr., USN. They married in 1954 and began a 20 year US Navy career as a team.
Carmen and Jim were blessed with three children, raising them with a love for Christ and a grand sense of adventure. Each new US Navy duty station was an opportunity to explore God's natural beauty in many of the US National Parks. Carmen shared her musical talent with each of her three children. This was most fully manifested in the singing group, The Sounds of Conviction, that she and Jim led over a decade during the late 60's and 70's. Despite the racial and social tensions of the era, The Sounds of Conviction united different ethnicities and church backgrounds to exuberantly bring the love of God to the hills and hollows of the Appalachian Region and the British Isles, through music, songs, and personal testimony.
Carmen's love of music led her to earn a B.A. degree in Music Education. Answering the call to serve, Carmen worked as a music therapist for children with special needs in Bluefield, VA. That passion for working with youth led her to direct choirs at the middle school, high school and college levels in Longview, TX. Two mission trips to China with college singers extended the love of God to eager listeners. During that time she also earned an M.A. in Professional Counseling at UT Tyler, TX. Her reputation as a caring and wise Professional Counselor brought her and Jim to Montreat College in Montreat NC, in 1990, where she served as Head Counselor for 12 years.
Three years after her first husband's passing, Carmen attended her 50-year high school reunion. There she met Morgan Phillips and began to write a new life story. Morgan's career as a professor of theology complemented Carmen's counseling expertise.
Carmen is survived by her husband, Morgan Phillips; son, James Copenhaver, Jr and wife Lori; daughters, Terry Conner and husband Sam, Susan Anderson and husband Todd; stepson, Scott Phillips and wife Maggie; sister, Carolee Beckham; and brother, Jerry Keeter. Carmen was blessed with eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, James Copenhaver, Sr., and her parents. She is dearly missed by her loved ones, who take comfort in the fact that she is at peace with her creator.
Carmen's life will be celebrated on Friday, March 3, 2017, at Gaither Auditorium on the Montreat College campus in Montreat, NC, with Pastor Richard White officiating. Visitation will begin at 11:30 am with a memorial service at 12:30 pm. Burial will follow at 2pm at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain, NC.
Arrangements by Harwood Home for Funerals.