Vale Janet Phillips, an original Flinders historian

It is with great sadness that Flinders University mourns the passing of Dr Janet Phillips (pictured), who died on Monday 12 March at the age of 79.

The former senior lecturer in History – one of Flinders’ original academics, who began at the university in 1967 – suffered complications from a long standing heart condition a few days after going into hospital to be treated for a serious infection.

Her surviving sons Daniel and Joshua Phillips said their mother was especially proud of her 42 years at Flinders, having joined the University in its second year.

“She was one of a very few women academics in those early days and was both grateful for the opportunity and determined to contribute,” said Joshua.

“Until the very end, she remained proud of Flinders University’s many achievements, and wore it as a badge of honour that she played a role.”

During her career, Dr Phillips won renown as an expert in Culture in Victorian England, Nazi Germany, Hitler, German history and British history.

She retired from the History Department in January 2009.

Her sons also paid tribute to Dr Phillips’ resilience in the face of serious health challenges through her life.

“Janet faced many physical challenges. Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in her 30s, she lived with the disease for 40 years, then had a stroke when she was 53, yet she prevailed against the odds and was here for a good time, not just a long time, and lived life to the full,” said Joshua.

Dr Phillips, who was born on January 12, 1939, to Charles Robertson and Marian Robertson (nee Halliday) of Tusmore, published three books: Liberalism in South Africa: 1948-63 (as Janet Robertson); Not Saints, But Girls, a centennial history of her old school St Peters Collegiate Girls School, and Victorians at Home and Away (with her husband Peter Phillips, who died in 2010).

Through her long academic career, she remained in love with teaching and developed deep relationships with many of her students.

Dr Phillips’ funeral will be held at Holy Innocents’ Church, 29 Sheoak Road, Belair, at 1.30 pm on Wednesday, 21 March.

The family warmly welcomes Flinders staff, and requests gifts to Janet’s favourite charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, in lieu of flowers.

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