Lanier Phillips, survivor of the 1942 Truxton and Pollux disaster on the rocky coast near St. Lawrence, embodied the true spirit of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said.
Phillips died Monday at the age of 88.
He was inducted into the Order on Sept. 13, 2011.
Dunderdale called her meeting with Phillips at the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador induction ceremony an honour.
“Lanier Phillips embodied the true spirit of the Order through his eloquence in promoting Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as compassionate, generous and brave,” she said. “He holds an important place in the history of this province and on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I offer my deepest sympathies to his loved ones.”
The USS Truxton and USS Pollux were shipwrecked off Newfoundland’s south coast on Feb. 18, 1942 — 110 sailors from the Truxton and 93 sailors from the Pollux died.
The people of St. Lawrence rescued 46 sailors from the Truxton and nursed them to health over the next few days.
During that time Phillips, a black man from the southern United States, came to the realization that equality regardless of skin colour was a possibility.
The care he received in St. Lawrence set him on a path to becoming a champion of civil rights, and he often credited Newfoundlanders with showing him the world wasn’t full of hate.
Phillips died at a military retirement home in Gulfport, Miss.