Women’s club grateful to Billy Phillips

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, February 28, 2018

To the Editor:
[Editor’s note: The following are a welcome and thanks made to Billy Phillips and his family on Saturday at the annual cotillion.]

Good evening ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 2018 Chester Cotillion formal. Chester Cotillion is sponsored by the Junior Federated Women’s Club of Chester. I am Monique McBride, president of the JFWCC. I would like to thank my fellow clubwomen Melissa Brockwell, Carrie Butler, Anne Ertzner, Jenni Honn and Catherine Garrett for their work on the cotillion committee. 

The year was 1958 and Elvis Presley was just inducted into the Army. The movies “South Pacific” and “Gigi” were playing in theaters across America and the hula hoop had just been introduced. Dwight D. Eisenhower was our president, and the song “All I Have to Do is Dream” by the Everly Brothers topped the charts. But more importantly, to the little hamlet of Chester, Virginia, 1958 was the year a treasured tradition began.

It was the year that Mr. William (“Billy” to his friends) Phillips brought his love of dance and social etiquette to the youth of Chester. Our 7th and 8th grade students participating here tonight have the honor of celebrating the 60th anniversary of this beloved tradition.

As a Dance Educators of America trained ballroom instructor, Mr. Phillips has influenced generations of Chester families. If you can dance a foxtrot, do the cha-cha or the swing, chances are you’ve had the pleasure of participating in cotillion with Mr. Phillips, his wife, Toni, and daughter, Joanna.

What started out in a room over the Chester fire station with a piano player has become a rite of passage for Chester middle schoolers on Saturday evenings. For that, we owe a big debt of gratitude to The Phillips and thank them from the bottom of our hearts.


Mr. Phillips, we have a gift we hope you will enjoy. When thinking of the 60th anniversary of cotillion we wanted to do something special for you. You have had an amazing impact on the youth of our community. Your dedication is something unheard of these days.

What makes our cotillion unique is Mr. Phillips does not have any ties to our area. He lives in Franklin, Virginia, and has traveled back and forth to teach our children for all of these years. 

I reached out to Facebook and asked people to share their memory of cotillion and Mr. Phillips. I got a flood of comments. I enjoyed reading their responses.

Everyone had a happy memory or pictures to share. One gentleman said he met his wife at cotillion. Others still have their trophies as far back as 1961. Some were funny and mischievous; one person said he sprayed the fire extinguisher during class and another poured salt on the floor when it was held at the Chester Community Center. My year, 1981, a boy threw a handful of marbles across the dance floor. 

The common thread in all of the responses was you are a treasured part of our lives.

We all look back on our days in cotillion with such a fondness and we are fortunate to be part of the cotillion family.

We have created a book with pictures throughout the years and also the responses we received. I hope you enjoy reading it and know how much you are loved by so many in our community.

Thank you being a wonderful part of our lives.

Monique McBride
President Junior Federated Women’s Club of Chester

Melissa Brockwell
Committee chair and Cotillion alumna