Dr Phillips History

Dr Philip Phillips was born on January 27, 1874, in Memphis, Tennessee. While Dr ‘Doc’ Phillips received his Medical degree from Columbia University, he is much better known for his work with Citrus trees such as orange trees.

At the age of 20, Doc moved to (then named) Satsuma, Florida in the hopes of following his dreams of becoming a citrus farm owner, but after one of the worst freezes Florida has ever seen, Doc moved back to Tennessee after just one year. Doc again tried to begin his career in 1897 by moving further South into Central Florida. Doc purchased 5,000 acres to erect his empire on although; he started with only 2 small packing houses. Doc soon began buying more of the surrounding orange groves, and within 8 years he had purchased the land along now named Turkey Lake road, where The Dr P. Phillips Hospital is located, which was named in his honor in 2006.

Once Doc Phillips had his operation running, it wasn’t long before his dreams came to fruition. By 1910, Dr. Phillips was reaping the benefits of his huge citrus farm. Dr Phillips and his wife Della shared these fortunes with their neighbors taking care of the less fortunate in the area.

Dr Phillips and Della had two sons in their lifetime. The eldest, Howard, was born in Lebanon, Tennessee on March 27, 1902, and Walter was born two years later on November 27, 1904. As close as the boys were to each other, they could not have had different views of how to run the family business. Howard graduated from Harvard, while Walter worked on the family farm. Howard went out west to expand the family business, while Walter stayed in Central Florida to learn how to run the day-to-day operations. It was through the two different ideologies of how to run their father’s business that allowed it to become what it is today.

By the 1930s, Doc began developing new methods of packaging orange juice. This would serve as the foundation for sending canned orange juice to soldiers in Europe during WWII. Through Dr Phillips’ new method of ‘flash pasteurizing,’ he was able to can fresh orange juice so it did not spoil, while maintaining a nice taste. Once the American Medical Association declared OJ was good for human health, the military began shipping the flash pasteurized product to Europe to maintain the soldier’s health while fighting WWII.

Dr Phillips also played an integral role in protecting citrus crops from insects. Through his innovative ideas, he developed crop dusting where a plane was utilized to spray pesticides on the citrus trees quickly and efficiently. This resulted in less crop loss due to insects, and saved time rather than having to do this chore by hand.

In 1953 the Phillips’ family created the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation to support charitable organizations throughout Central Florida. Dr Phillips believed in “correcting the cause of the problem,” or providing a solution to a problem. He believed it so much that he gave the motto “to help others help themselves” to his organization. It is through this foundation and it’s subsequent charities that we owe for this wonderful community we live in. Places such as the Phillips Center for Children & Families, Dr Phillips Hospital, and the about to open Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center all owe their creations to the Dr Phillips Foundation and Dr Phillips himself.

In 1954, the citrus business was sold to Granada Groves, now Minute Maid, later more of the land was sold to a small weapons creator (Lockheed Martin), and finally another stretch of land was sold to a mouse. Not just any mouse, but Mickey Mouse. Disney would not exist if it weren’t for the land provided by Dr Phillips.

Dr Phillips passed away on April 18, 1959 survived by his wife and two sons; His wife, Della, passed away in 1968, followed by Howard in 1979. Howard was the sole heir by this point, and left all the Dr Phillips’ holdings to be used in charitable ways by the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation.

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