Mary Anna Pozzi (1900 - 1981)
Ralph Wesley Philips (1909 - 2003)


Mary Pozzi and Ralph Philips were married on June 1, 1934 in North Adams, MA. Ralph was the son of Elijah Philips and Maggie Auvil. Ralph was born in Parsons, WV on February 7, 1909.He grew up on a farm, which set the stage nicely for his future as an expert on artificial insemination. But in his early years, life was a struggle. The family was poor and he later recalled his upbrining as being both humorous and impoverished. Sounds like they probably had a lot of fun, despite a lack of monetary wealth.

Ralph chose the then inexpensive Berea College in Kentucky. One of his professors encouraged him to pursue graduate work at the University of Missouri. In order to pull it off, he had to borrow $200.00 from the President of Berea College in order to support himself during those days. So, after getting his B.S from Berea in 1930, Ralph was off to Missouri. He studied hard and wrote many scholarly papers in hopes off getting a teaching job after he graduated. He earned his Masters in 1931 and a Ph.D, in 1934. Those were the depression years, and in 1933, at roughly 24 years old, Ralph got a teaching job at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which in those days was Massachusetts State College. He taught several subjects including animal nutrition.

The story goes that at a Mass. State College faculty function that year, Ralph met a young woman who was "a vivicious vision in a brown velvet evening gown." Her name was Mary Pozzi. She was an assistant Home Economics Specialist at Mass State College. Mary was older than Ralph by almost nine years. She had grown up in North Adams, MA. Frankly, I'm not 100% sure what her actual name was. I have her listed as Mary Anna Pozzi. Her daughter, Maria, recalls her mother claiming she never had a middle name. Their wedding announcment lists her as Marion, and there is a family story that she was actually named Maria, but the nuns at the Catholic school made her "Americanize" her name to Mary. The 1910 census shows her as Mary and everyone knew her as Mary, so we'll stick with that.

On June 1,1934, they were married in the rectory of the Catholic church in North Adams, MA. Ralph had been brought up Methodist and refused to sign the papers that theirchildren would be brought up Catholic. Hence, they were married in the rectory, not the church proper. Perhaps it was a bow to Ralph's Mom, who never quite forgave him for marrying a Catholic girl. My how times have changed!!!!!

Here are Mary and Ralph on their wedding day!

Despite his rural upbringing, Ralph was an incredibly dapper young man. He was well disciplined, soft spoken, a stickler for details and always immaculate. He insisted on donning a sport coat before going outside to check the mail.

He is rather sharp looking, don't you think?

Mary was a beautiful young woman, and very athletic as well. On Memorial Day, 1935, she broke her ankle playing baseball with friends. This was only a few short weeks before Mary and Ralph set sail for Europe where Ralph was to present an important paper in Moscow. But this was not just a business trip. They must have both had an interest in family heritage as well, because on this trip, they took the time to visit Ferno, Italy where Mary's father, Giovanni Pozzi was from. Ralph wrote this in his diary about their time in Ferno:

"After many trials and tribulations to find the way, we arrived by train at 9:30 PM. A kindly conductor dropped us at a road running through a cornfield, roused the keeper of a nearby inn, who sent word to the village a quarter mile distant that we had arrived. By the time we reached the village we were escorted by at least fifty people. The pleasure and interest of our visit with the Macchis, the Pozzis and their many friends cannot be told in words"

I'd say they had a pretty darned good time!!!

The young couple settled in the Washington, DC area by 1936. Ralph had taken a position with the US Department of Agriculture working on animal genetics.

On June 25, 1938, Mary gave birth to their daughter, Maria Diana Phillips

In 1943, Ralph accepted a position as a consultant on animal breeding with the State Department. It was a 13 month assignment in both China and India.


Ralph's career skyrocketed. He held several positions with the USDA up through 1946. He then focused his work on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization until 1957. He then came back to the USDA, where he eventually became Executive Director of International Organization Affairs. He was founding editor of The Journal of Animal Science, and was Deputy Director-General of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization until his retirement in 1982. Pretty impressive resume for a farm boy from West Virginia!!!

In 1981, while living in Rome, Mary suffered a severe cerebral hemmorage. She passed away on February 26th, 1981 in Rome at the Salvador Mundo International Hospital. The doctor listed on her death certificate is a Dr. Vincenzio Giulio Bilotta. Interstingly, he was part of a medical team that was summoned some five years later to prove a medical miracle at the behest of Pope John Paul II.

Ralph wrote his autobiography, and called it "The World Was My Barnyard".

Ralph Wesley Phillips passed away on January 7, 2003 in Falls Church, VA.


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A special thanks to Mary and Ralph's daughter Maria for her invaluable help with this page. She has shared so much wonderful information about her parents and grandparents that I have run out of ways to express my gratitude! Thanks Maria!!! You're a gem!!!