Capt. Wade Jefferson Pharis

Published 8:56 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Capt. Wade Jefferson Pharis, United States Navy (Retired), 80, passed away on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the James H. Quillen, VAMC, Mountain Home, Tenn., following complications from pneumonia. He was born on January 3, 1935 in a houseboat on the Mississippi River. He spent his childhood in the Mississippi Delta, working on his family’s farm and doing odd jobs. At 14, he even drove the local school bus.
His entry into the Navy was an accident. A friend asked for a ride to the nearest recruiting station and Captain Pharis, deciding he had nothing better to do that day, opted to take the aptitude test. He did so well he was given a ROTC scholarship to the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. He went on to earn master’s degrees in physics and international relations as well as an MBA.
Captain Pharis rose in the Navy as a helicopter pilot flying search and rescue missions. He earned a Silver Star for his bravery on the last day of his third tour in Vietnam, when he took part in the harrowing recovery of a downed Air Force pilot in the jungles of what was then North Vietnam.
Captain Pharis commanded two helicopter squadrons, served as executive officer on the USS Guam, an amphibious assault ship, and was later detailed to the Naval War College as a member of the faculty. He had been appointed as naval attaché to the Philippines when he suffered a heart attack at age 48, effectively ending his military career after 27 years of service.
He remade himself as a financial advisor to military personnel and their families and began a career managing various business interests. He eventually moved to Elizabethton, Tenn., where he has made his home for the past 20 years.
Captain Pharis was preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and wife of 57 years, Hazel V. Cauthen Pharis, who passed away just six months earlier. He is survived by two daughters, Valerie Pharis Beyers and husband, Dan, of Columbia, Md., and Vanessa M. Yoder and companion, Brent Spies, of North Kingstown, R.I.; one son, Farrell J. Pharis and wife, Paula, of Jonesboro, Ark.; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and two brothers, James Leo Pharis Sr. of Friars Point, Miss., and Monroe Cebe Pharis of Tutwiler, Miss. He was preceded in death by his sister, Hazel Maupin, and his parents, James and Bernice Butter Pharis.
A candlelight visitation for Capt. Pharis will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, in the Fireside Room of Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton. A candlelight funeral service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Friday, April 24, at Meredith-Nowell Funeral Home in Clarksdale, Miss., with Reverend Matthew Pharis officiating. The family will receive friends at the funeral home in Clarksdale on Friday, April 24, from 1 until 2 p.m., prior to the candlelight service in the chapel. Captain Pharis will be laid to rest alongside his wife at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., with full military honors provided by the Arlington Honor Guard. The family requests that those wishing to send flowers make a donation to Rolling Thunder, Chapter 4, P.O. Box 220, Mountain Home, TN 37684, whose members provide weekly services to the veterans’ home there. Online condolences may be shared with the family at our website,
Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, is serving the Pharis family. Office: (423) 542-2232. Obituary Line: (423) 543-4917.

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