John Calvin Philley – Enterprise-Tocsin

John Calvin Philley, 85, passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 17, 2021, surrounded by his family. He was a talented educator and administrator, a dedicated church member, and a loving and compassionate husband and father.

John was born Oct. 17, 1935, in Indianola to J.W. and Mary (Farrar) Philley. He graduated from Indianola High School as salutatorian of the class of 1953. After high school John attended Millsaps College in Jackson, earning a B.S. in geology in 1957. He continued his education at the University of Tennessee, completing a M.S. in 1961 and a Ph.D. in 1971.

While at Tennessee John fell in love with Betty Lou Davis. The two were married in August of 1959 and would raise three children together.

In 1960 John became Morehead State University’s first full-time instructor of geology and physical science, eventually creating the school’s degree programs for geology and environmental science. In 1974 he moved into administration and retired in 1997 as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.

John held leadership roles in many professional societies including as president of the Geological Society of Kentucky, the Kentucky Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the Kentucky Academy of Science, as well as serving on the board of directors of the Kentucky Science and Technology Council.

John was instrumental in convincing the Kentucky General Assembly to enact, in 1992, legislation for the registration of professional geologists. He served as the first chairman of that Board of Registration and later as president of the National Association of State Boards of Geology.

John was preceded in death by his parents, J.W. and Mary Philley; his infant brother, Robert Russell Philley; and sister, Betty Lou Lassetter.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Betty Lou (Davis) Philley; children, Dave Philley (Karen), Leigh Taylor and Melissa Clauson (Will); brother J.W. Philley Jr.; sister Marsha Collins (Allan); grandchildren, Jacob, Calvin and Jonah Philley, and Jordan Philley Saylor (Josh), Will Taylor, and Lilly and Sam Clauson.

A celebration of John’s life was held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24 at Morehead United Methodist Church, 227 W. Main St., Morehead, KY, 40351. Visitation was held from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. before the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Morehead State University Foundation to support students studying in the geology program at https://alumni.moreheadstate.edu/philley or Morehead United Methodist Church at www.moreheadumc.org/give.


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