Claire Phillips WI'30

Claire Phillips’ favorite birthday present will someday be a gift to Exeter.

For her birthday in 1964, John Phillips ’30 gave his wife, Claire, the biggest birthday present she’d ever received: a secluded vacation home known as Southwinds in upstate New York. Although the Phillipses worked and resided in New Jersey during the week, it was to the peaceful shores of Lake George that they retreated every weekend and for a few months each year. "No matter what the weather was, we loved it," says Claire, a retired certified public accountant, who met John while the two were working at Ernst & Ernst.

John died after a short illness in 1979. It was her husband’s fondness for Exeter, Claire explains, that inspired her to create a provision in her will to give Southwinds to the Academy. By making a real estate bequest, Claire will continue to own and enjoy Southwinds for the rest of her life. After she dies, Southwinds will be entrusted to the Academy. In accordance with Claire’s wishes, the Academy will retain and use the property for five years, after which it may be kept or sold.

John was not only an Exeter alumnus—his lineage and surname also linked him to Exeter’s founder. Says Claire, "John was always proud that a member of his family founded Exeter, and he was always appreciative of his time there. I think John would be so pleased that a place he dearly loved and put so much of his own time and physical effort into improving will be used by the Academy he loved. I think that would make him very, very happy."