Colleagues and friends reflected Monday on the passing of former State Representative and Northumberland County commmissioner Merle Phillips, who passed away Monday at the age of 85.

- State Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver - "People underestimated him when they heard that Dutch accent, but he was very intelligent. He always felt that everyone deserved a first, second and third chance, and hoped he could provide that help and guidance to make themselves better."

"Merle had this great sense of humor and he let that out to everyone who knew him. He loved his family and you couldn't have asked for a better friend."

- State Rep. Kurt Masser - "My heart goes out to his family, who meant so much to him. He is going to be sadly missed, as he was a true gentleman and a statesman."

"I have heard a lot of stories about listening to Merle speak, because he didn't speak too often, but when he did, people listened because they knew that he was in tune with what he was speaking about."

- Beth Kremer, Northumberland County Republican Party chairwoman - "He was a very good man, and always worked very hard for his constituents, was very loyal to the Republican party and a great friend. He was a powerhouse in Harrisburg and rarely missed a Republican function in the county."

- Robert Sacavage, Northumberland County President Judge - "He was very understanding when he came around to the idea that Northumberland County needed a third judge. He was more of a friend than a political ally."

"I'm going to miss Merle and there won't be many more Merle Phillips, not in this day in the age of politics."

- William H. Wiest, Northumberland County Judge. - "We've lost a giant among the representatives of the people of Northumberland County. I personally represented him when I was in private practice, and he encouraged me to run for judge in 1997 and he chaired my retention campaign in 2007."

"My wife and I feel a true void in our lives and our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends."

- Charles H. Saylor, Northumberland County Judge - "I was saddened to hear of his death today. He accomplished a great deal for our county as a legislator. He was one of the people instrumental for me being a judge."

"Merle had that folksy charm about him, but he was very cunning and intelligent. Because of that, he was able to do a lot of good for our community."

- State Sen. John Gordner - "He was a giant among public elected officials, and over his career, did a lot of tremendous things for our area. One thing I will always remember is that no matter where he was, he had one of his hunting dogs with him, even in his office in Harrisburg. When someone could complain about it, he would quip that the person should talk to the caucus administrator, who set the rules. Well, Merle was the caucus administrator."

- Robert E. Belfanti, former state representative, - "When I travel to the Sunbury area and I often pass by the sign for Merle Phillips Park and I think of my old friend and colleague fondly, and all of the great challenges we faced together, with no partisan politics between us, just to do right for the people in our district."