Anthony loses his hero

July 21, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Anthony Small was by his grandmother Millie Phillips’ side as she passed away earlier this week.

Anthony Small with his late grandmother, Millie Phillips

He told J-Wire: “The world has lost a titan, and I have lost my hero. On Monday I sat with my grandmother as she passed away peacefully listening to calm ocean waves.

My grandmother was a remarkable era-defining woman. A Holocaust refugee who came to Australia in 1938 at the age of nine who rose from a childhood of abject poverty in her ‘fiddler on the roof’ shtetl, to success as a maverick feminist-entrepreneur and icon of the 1970s and 1980s – dubbed by many the ‘Nickle Queen’ due to her success in the male-dominated mining industry.

You could scarcely have stacked the deck more heavily against her to begin with. No divorced single mother of three, not to mention Jewish immigrant and high-school drop-out, was supposed to be able to succeed at business, much less in industries like mining, that exemplified masculine Aussie ‘boy’s club’ bravado. And yet, much as she adopted a posh English accent by watching Laurence Olivier films,

Millie always found a way to do exactly what she was supposed to not be able to do.  To whit, a woman who dropped out of school was awarded a PhD in 2015 by Tel Aviv University, and a child of poverty has at her death left a landmark bequest to benefit her community and the world at large. Those contrasts sum up the force of character my grandmother had, and it was felt by everyone who met her, including her family.

Away from the headlines, I will always remember her as a loving grandmother and mentor, who nurtured my interest in economics, politics, history, art and culture from an early age. I was lucky enough to spend many of my Shabbat dinners with her trading travel stories, analysing potential investments in the market, appreciating her latest art or antique acquisition or discussing, debating and laughing about anything and everything. I and many of my friends have spent countless fond weekends at her beautiful ‘Jane Austin’ garden and holiday house in the Blue Mountains, which she filled with rare plants and tended with the greatest care. It will forever remain my personal shrine to her memory.

Millie was, as she liked to joke, “Australia’s best investment”, and someone I feel privileged to have known, and luckier still to have called family. Rest in peace Bubbah, I love you and will never forget you.

 

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