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'My orbit was still on pause': Wife of slain Saint Francis doctor reflects on 1 year mark

Dr. Preston and Melody Phillips (Courtesy: Melody Phillips)
Dr. Preston and Melody Phillips (Courtesy: Melody Phillips)
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One year ago today, Tulsa's heart was shattered when four lives were senselessly cut short after a gunman opened fire at Saint Francis Hospital.

The wife of Dr. Preston Phillips, one of the victims of the mass shooting in June 2022, sat down and spoke about the tragedy for the first time with NewsChannel 8's Brenna Rose.

Melody Phillips said she thought long and hard about speaking publicly and that it's part of her grieving process to push forward after an insurmountable loss.

She also wants people to know exactly who Dr. Preston Phillips was.

"He touched so many lives," she said. "He was generous and kind and just had a heart for people and cared about his fellow man."

Dr. Phillips was an accomplished orthopedic surgeon and Harvard Medical School graduate, but away from the work he dedicated his life to, he was just Preston.

"He was my best friend. He was my go-to for everything. My dance partner. My singing partner."

A husband to Melody and a dad to their three children.

"He loved being a dad," she said. "It was always important for him that kids came home for holiday."

He enjoyed boating, fishing, playing tennis, and together, they had big plans, but at the very place he worked to make others better, Dr. Phillips lost his life, targeted, by what authorities described as a disgruntled patient.

"It's been hard. I've been coping by staying busy. The pain was so hard in the beginning that I just kind of compressed it and got really busy. In my quiet time, not a day goes by that I don't think of him."

Melody says she's thought, too, about the others who had their lives turned upside down on that day — the families of Dr. Stephanie Husen, Amanda Glenn, and William Love.

"We are forever bound through this tragedy and know firsthand what it feels like," she said.

It's a feeling she doesn't want anyone else to ever have to experience.

"When the shooting happened at Saint Francis, my world stopped. It’s like the world stopped rotating because if this could happen in Tulsa at Saint Francis, a hospital built on faith and religion and helping others, if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere, and I just thought, 'There’s a shift things have changed,' and I think days later, there was another mass shooting, but for me, my world, my orbit was still on pause and probably still is."

Melody says something needs to change.

"Without extreme measures, we can't shut off this possibility of mass shootings completely, but whatever steps we can take to decrease it so that fewer and fewer families are experiencing this year after year, we have to do it."

She says she may not have all the answers but is lending her voice to a larger conversation.

"There's a lot of chatter about why one might want to own a gun, but I think we have to be responsible about how that happens, and I said, 'We're so far down that path, we're probably a generation away from seeing a change,' so in the meantime, we have to live as if there's a possibility of this happening everywhere you go."

She makes note of exits in every public place she goes.

"It's almost a hostage state of having to worry about someone who is obviously not mentally healthy and is willing to take lives."

Lives that were cherished, loved, and will not be forgotten.

Written by KTUL staff using files from Brenna Rose.


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