Tom Phillips, The Man Who Led Chuck Colson to Christ, Dies at 94

Thomas L. Phillips, the longtime president of defense giant Raytheon Corporation and the man Chuck Colson credited with leading him to the Lord, died on Thursday. He was 94.

Tom Phillips was born in Istanbul in 1924 but was raised in Boston. He graduated from the famed Boston Public Latin School before earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in engineering from Virginia Tech. He almost immediately joined Boston-based Raytheon Corporation, in 1948.

In the late 1940s, Raytheon was a pioneer in the development of guided missile technology. But soon after Phillips joined Raytheon, a group of senior scientists working on the technology left to form their own business, effectively decapitating Raytheon’s efforts. With little to lose, Raytheon asked a young Tom Phillips – still in his 20s — to pick up the pieces and try to salvage the effort. He did, developing what became the U.S. Navy’s Sparrow missile. Later iterations became the Hawk ground-to-air missile, and then the Patriot missile system, which is still in use today.

His success as an engineer and leader in these early efforts allowed him to rise rapidly through the ranks of Raytheon. In 1960, he became a vice president, and in 1961 the executive vice president. In 1964 Raytheon’s board named him CEO.

At that time, Raytheon had about a half-billion dollars in annual revenue. Phillips quickly expanded the business into aviation, acquiring Beech aircraft and expanding that company’s brand in civilian aviation, as well as developing military versions of its planes. When Phillips retired in 1991, Raytheon had more than $10-billion in annual revenue and more than 75,000 employees. Phillips remained on the board of Raytheon until 2000.

Phillips was involved in a wide variety of activities outside of Raytheon. He served on the board of directors of Digital Equipment Corporation, one of the nation’s leading computer manufacturers from the 1950s to the 1980s. He also served on the boards of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company and media giant Knight-Ridder.

He also served on the boards of many Christian organizations. He was a trustee of Gordon College, and a member of the advisory board of the Salvation Army. He also received a dozen honorary degrees from Boston College, Gordon College, Babson College, and others.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Warren Cole Smith