In 1952 he graduated from the Stony Brook School in Long Island, N.Y., and entered Princeton that fall. By spring 1953 he was facing a draft call in the Korean War period. He volunteered for the Army for three years. After basic training he went to the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., studied Russian for a year, and was sent to Frankfurt, Germany, in military intelligence.
In the fall of 1956 William entered Wake Forest University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 and a scholarship for graduate study. He earned a master’s degree in English, writing his thesis on Leigh Hunt and English Romanticism.
He began 35 years as a college teacher in English in North Carolina, the last 30 at Winston-Salem State University, a branch of the University of North Carolina. His specialties were writing and world literature.
William and Kay, his wife of 60 years, have lived these past 50 years in the little village of Dalton, near Winston-Salem, in the house where he was born. He is survived by Kay and their son, William Scott Phillips, and his wife, Jeanalyn.