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Joseph James Philyaw’s life began Sep. 28, 1931, in Jay, Florida. He spent his childhood growing up in Alabama. Then as a young man Joe moved to Michigan, he made his home in Watervliet and went to work for Watervliet Papermill until they closed. When Joe was not working you could find him hunting and fishing. In his retirement years Joe repaired small engines at his home. Above everything Joe loved spending time with his wife Phyllis (Harper) Philyaw and their family.

Joe leaves behind a loving family to cherish his memory including: four children, Lajuana (Rick) Spaulding, Rhonda Rantz, Regina (Craig) Naumann, and Trent Philyaw; four grandchildren, Chris (Casey) Spaulding, Casey (Kari) Spaulding, Michael Rantz, and Matthew Rantz; four great-grandchildren; and several brothers, sisters, step-siblings, nieces and nephews.

Joe died Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at home surrounded by family. He is preceded in death by his wife Phyllis and his parents.

Joe’s wife Phyllis died during the restriction period of COVID, so their family will gather with friends for visitation on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Hutchins Funeral Home in Watervliet to honor both of their parents on what would have been their 67th anniversary. They will then be buried at North Shore Memory Gardens in Hagar Shore. You are invited to leave a message of comfort for the Philyaw family at


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