January 23, 2003
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A-C Service’s Phillips to retire

You might not recognize her name right away. But if you’ve ever received a bill for plumbing or heating repairs from A-C Service, local resident Thelma Phillips probably prepared it. And she probably did it flawlessly.

Next week marks the end of Phillips’s 28 years of service in the billing department at A-C Service. Her co-workers will hold an open house celebration tomorrow (Friday), from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for community members who would like to see her off.

Phillips started working part-time at A-C Service in 1975, when Jack Shook owned the business. Phillips’s husband, Richard, was out in the yard one day when Shook, the next door neighbor, asked him if his wife would like to go to work.

“The job found me,” Phillips said. “I thought I’d be here long enough to catch them up in the billing, and here I am.”

Phillips studied bookkeeping in the late ’40’s at Springfield High School, now called Springfield South, she said, making sure the distinction was noted. She liked bookkeeping, and was good at it. She is orderly and organized, qualities that run in the family.

“I like things picked up, it’s true, I don’t like things laying around,” she said. “Mother was always very organized.”

Phillips went to work for an accountant in Springfield directly out of high school, but soon married Richard, a boy from Yellow Springs, and quit to raise a family of five daughters. By the time the position at A-C Service opened up, her youngest was 12. She felt that she could spare a few hours every morning to work.

She started out typing invoices on a typewriter. Her slightly compulsive nature drew her naturally to keeping the books, and her co-workers indicated that the business has benefited from her organizational skills.

“I love bookkeeping, making sure they balance out at the end of the year,” she said. “I can’t rest until it’s balanced.”

Even the accountants noticed that someone had paid exacting attention to the job. Mark Partee, who managed the business when Phillips arrived and purchased it in 1990, said “We had a comment from our CPA about how well the books were kept. He said they were very efficient and there were never any mistakes.”

Phillips didn’t make many mistakes during her time at A-C Service. According to her co-workers, she was seldom sick, always on time, rarely on vacation and in all ways entirely reliable.

“In all honesty, half the time I didn’t even know she was here because she was back in her corner, just working and doing her thing,” Partee said.

When A-C Service computerized all the records, Phillips was opposed to the idea.

“It was a big adjustment for me to learn to operate computers; I didn’t want any part of them,” she said. “I’m old-fashioned, I’d just as soon do it the other way.”

Simplicity is her preference. She likes small towns like Yellow Springs better than Springfield. She likes spending time with her daughters and eight grandchildren, all of whom live nearby. She and her husband, who’s retired, do very little traveling, and they have no particular plans for retirement.

“I’ll read the morning paper with a cup of tea every morning, and there’s always cleaning and laundry to do,” she said. “And I’m going to come back and pester the people at the office occasionally.”


—Lauren Heaton