Betty Gene Phillips Barnhill


Betty Gene Phillips Barnhill, a longtime resident of Fairhope, passed away Thursday, July 6, 2023, at the age of 92.

Betty grew up in Butler and attended Choctaw County Schools. Upon graduating from Judson College with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, she moved to Bay Minette to work for the Baldwin County Welfare Department.

During that time, Betty met her future husband, Ben, a native of Loxley. Betty and Ben were married on Sep. 26, 1956. In 1959, Betty and Ben moved to Fairhope and purchased Fairhope Pharmacy. They worked tirelessly side by side to build a business that still thrives today. In addition, Betty was a real estate broker, and along with Ben they owned and operated Southern Realty. She also was among the group of parents that helped establish Bayside Academy.

Betty traveled extensively and led tour groups to Europe, Asia, and the United Kingdom. After visiting Christmas shops in Germany, she was inspired to open her own Christmas store. In 1995, Betty opened Christmas Round the Corner, which continues to operate today drawing customers from near and far.

She was a pillar of First Baptist Church, Fairhope, where she played the organ, taught Sunday School, served on various committees and was a dedicated choir member. Betty also started the “Jubileers” senior group at First Baptist, which remains strong today.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ben, and her brother, William Hunter Phillips. She is survived by her daughter, Lou Ann Barnhill Harrell (Billy); grandson, William Gaines Harrell of Texarkana, Texas; brother-in-law, Wendell Barnhill (Charlotte) of Fairhope; sister-in-law, Kellye Phillips of Daphne; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

The family would like to thank Betty’s devoted caregivers, Katie Coleman, Whitney Cuttrell and Marilyn Williams, for their compassion and kindness. The family would also like to thank the nurses and doctors at Mobile Infirmary Hospital and the caring staff of Gentiva Hospice.

Graveside services were held Thursday, July 13, at 10:30 a.m. at Greenwood Cemetery in Loxley. A celebration of life service for Betty followed at First Baptist Church, Fairhope, on Thursday, July 13 at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to First Baptist Church, Fairhope, Ecumenical Ministries in Fairhope, or the charity of your choice.