Memorial Prayer Service for Kenneth Phillips

Saturday, April 25, 2015
Posted here March 12, 2022

There was a display table with items from Kenny’s life, including several photos. There was also food: bacon-wrapped cocktail wieners in a sweet sauce, potato salad, pickles, and more. A fair number of family members and friends were there, though it was not a very large gathering. There was a representation of Oneida people there (also family members), including a Medicine Man who gave a lengthy prayer along with a brief translation at the prayer service, which began at 2:30. I (Charlie) officiated at the prayer service as well as playing the music (it was the choice of the family, mainly Wendi’s sister Rose). ~ Wendi brought CDs of Wayra, a Native American flute player; we played these during the lunch time before the prayer service.

Randy Kientop, Kenny’s friend, didn’t stay long; he basically dropped off the mandella dream catcher and left. But his parents, Charles and Darlene, stayed for the whole service and loved the prayer service especially; they sang along with all of the songs. Darlene insisted that I was an “angel” for doing this, and Wendi and I both for that matter, for taking Kenny into our home.

What follows is the actual program of the memorial prayer service.

Hello. In case any of you don’t know me, I’m Charlie Petitt. My wife is Wendi, the youngest full sibling of Kenny Phillips and the 9th of 12 children altogether. Kenny spent his last nine weeks with us in Janesville, WI. I’ve been asked to speak as well as do the music today, and I consider it a great honor. I’ll do my best on both and try to be fairly brief as well.

Open in Christian prayer

Prayers of the Nations: reading of Oneida and Lakota prayers. An Oneida Medicine Man present at the service recited a lengthy prayer in the Oneida tongue (5 or 10 minutes), then gave a 2 to 3 minute summary of it in English. Wendi Petitt read the Lakota prayer which Becky Phillips sent us by email. The Lakota prayer is much shorter, but the overall content and gist of it was nearly identical to the Oneida prayer.

A Simple Prayer

Christian Nielsen

Great Spirit (Wankantanka),

I speak to you as a relative to all things that live.

I give thanks and pray for the well being of all things in your great Universe and on the great Earth Mother.

I pray today for Kenneth Jackson Phillips Jr., that his crossing from this world to the next will be a good one.

I pray for balance as Kenneth prepares for this most important passage on life’s path to join our ancestors.

I pray for the ones who will remain in this world, that we may feel your loving presence in our hearts and in our minds.

Help us to remember the words of Chief Seattle, who said that “there is no death, only a change of worlds”.

Great Spirit, we know that you walk with us always, for you are everywhere.

Please hear our prayer and help us to remember always to honor the path you have laid out before us.

Please hear this prayer from your children.

Mitokwe Oyasin (All My Relatives)

Warm Regards

Obituary for Kenneth J Phillips, Jr.

Kenneth J Phillips, Jr. 67, Janesville, Wis., formerly of Green Bay, Wis., went home to our Lord on Wednesday morning, April 15, 2015.

Born on Dec. 21, 1947, in Green Bay, he is the son of the late Kenneth, Sr. and Shirley (Benoit) Phillips. He enjoyed doing beading and art work.

He is survived by three sons, Donnie, Kelly and Kenny; one stepdaughter, Lisa; and several grandchildren. Kenneth also is survived by five brothers, Ralph, Joe (Bonnie), Paul, Patrick (Jessica), John; four sisters, Debbie, Rose (Jerry), Wendi (Charlie), and Patricia; one sister-in-law, Patricia; two aunts, Dorothy and Georgia (Benoit), many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, and two brothers, Reuben and Eugene.

Visitation will be from Noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at the Reforestation Camp (The Pine Shelter — across from the NEW Zoo), 4418 Reforestation Rd, Suamico, Wis. Prayer Service at 2:30.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in his name.

“Thorns and Blossoms” sung with chords on the mandolin

Kenny Phillips was a man of faith, at least toward the end. His faith was a curious blend of evangelical Christianity and Native American religions, mainly Oneida, though he was acquainted with the Lakota ways as well as others. Many of his friends knew him as Wolf. At this time, we will hear some prayers from the nations.

Several people have observed that “Kenny was no angel.” He had a troubled and turbulent youth; most of us are well aware that he spent most of his life behind bars. Yet his years in prison gave him the opportunity to deal with his mistakes. While he was in Tennessee around the turn of the millennium, he met a nice lady who introduced him to Jesus; at that time he embraced Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

There was a brief written devotional, a message of salvation.

Scripture quotations below are from the New International Version.

Grace = unmerited favor of God

Translated in New Life Version as “loving-favor”—you can’t earn love.

Ephesians 2:8–9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

“Amazing Grace” — congregational song accompanied by mandolin

Because we have God’s grace, we have an eternal hope.

John 14:1–6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I Thessalonians 4:13–18
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

“I’ll Fly Away” — congregational song accompanied by mandolin

The Lord’s Prayer — recited by everyone

I would like to open the floor so family members or friends can share a brief personal memory of Kenny. I will begin:

When Kenny was released from prison in February, the biggest thing that bothered him was how fast, frenzied, and furious our society has become. Everyone is in such a tremendous hurry that they can’t slow down and think about what they are doing, or enjoy what time they have. This, to a man whose days were clearly numbered, was a great burden.

I wrote a song about this several years ago and would like to share it with you right now. The title of the song is “Autumn Breeze.”

Donnie Brunette (Kenny’s oldest son) shared his memories of his father. He also spent time in prison (for DUI and vehicular manslaughter) and was actually in the same prison as his father (Fox Lake, I believe) for a time, so he was able to spend time with his father.

Wendi Petitt shared her memories of Kenny at our home near the end of his life. He developed a love for sweets and loved to watch “Let’s Make a Deal” on TV. He also wanted to bring his family together, as they were split apart early on and had remained largely apart ever since.

After the service, several family members echoed Kenny’s desire to see the family brought together. There is talk of a family reunion this summer.

Photos from the Memorial

The display table at the memorial. The mandella dream catcher (on the wall) was made and brought in by Randy Kientop. The wolf blanket (left) was sent up by Sandra Gamble (the “nice lady” mentioned in the prayer service; she was Kenny’s girlfriend).

Charlie with the mandolin.