DiAnne Guinn Phillips, loving wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend, passed away peacefully on Nov. 6, 2023 surrounded by her family.
DiAnne was born October 9, 1944, in Paris, Tennessee and graduated from Grove High School in 1962. After graduating from the University of Tennessee at Martin, DiAnne went on to receive a Masters in Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
An auburn-haired, blue-eyed beauty, DiAnne was chosen “Best Looking” by her senior class, elected to the National Honor Society, and crowned Paris Tennessee Fish-Fry Hostess Princess at her hometown’s annual Fish Fry Festival in 1962. As 1964’s Miss Weakley County, she competed in the Miss Tennessee Pageant where her fellow contestants voted her Miss Congeniality.
Among the admirers in the crowd at that pageant was Wade Phillips, a fellow teacher and coach at Grove Junior High School. DiAnne would later tell friends that, when the two crossed paths at a school pep rally, she knew instantly that she had met the love of her life. The two married in 1965.
DiAnne had a life-long passion for education. Having worked her way through college to attain her own education, she embarked on a career educating others. In teaching positions in West Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama, she was recognized for excellence in the classroom and for her willingness to mentor young teachers. DiAnne was particularly fond of her time teaching 2nd Grade at Vestavia Hills Elementary East in Birmingham, Alabama, where she taught hundreds of young students not only to read proficiently, but to love reading. In retirement, DiAnne continued to encourage others to find inspiration through reading by giving books she loved as gifts.
Though she encountered a number of health challenges throughout her life, DiAnne chose to find joy in each day and will be remembered for her spiritual strength and ever-cheerful disposition. A devout follower of Christ, DiAnne was most recently a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and eagerly shared her faith with others by gifting hundreds of copies of a favorite book, “Jesus Calling,” to friends and strangers.
DiAnne and Wade spent more than 25 years in Birmingham where they raised their two sons and built life-long friendships. As much as she cherished those years in Alabama, DiAnne remained a Tennessee girl at heart. She was born in West Tennessee. She spent her honeymoon in Gatlinburg and enjoyed many vacations in the Smokey Mountains. She always planned to return home. When the couple retired, they moved to Nashville.
In Nashville, DiAnne was an avid Bunko player, enjoyed afternoon drives on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and could be seen rain or shine cheering on her granddaughters’ sports teams at St. Cecilia Academy. She volunteered to greet visitors at Blakeford Senior Living Community after the couple moved there in 2016, and she was an enthusiastic participant in community activities with her many Blakeford friends. DiAnne and Wade actively supported the Nashville Rescue Mission.
A celebration of DiAnne’s life will take place on Saturday, November 11, at West End United Methodist Church, 2200 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37203. Visitation will be at the church starting 10:30am in Reed Hall, with the service to follow in the Sanctuary at 11:30am.
DiAnne is survived by her devoted husband of 58 years, Wade Phillips, and her loving sons, Brant (Joelle) and Clay (Elizabeth), and two beloved granddaughters.
Honorary pallbearers are Barry Robertson, Brian Robertson, Allen Robertson, Andy Guinn, Bill Guinn, and Zach Ayers.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in DiAnne’s memory to Nashville Rescue Mission or the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation.