James Reese Phifer, 1916-1998

Phifer 001.jpg


James Reese Phifer, 1916-1998




J. Reese Phifer was a life-long resident of Tuscaloosa and the founder, along with his wife Sue Clarkson Phifer, of Phifer Wire Products, Incorporated, a world leader in textile production.

Phifer was born on Feb. 19, 1916, to William and Olga Gough Phifer. His father operated a grocery store where Phifer and his brother grew up stocking shelves and delivering groceries.

Phifer earned a bachelor's degree in commerce and a law degree from the University of Alabama. Phifer also learned to fly and, during World War II, trained French and British pilots in Tuscaloosa County. Later, Phifer ferried airplanes needed in the war effort from the United States to Europe.

After the war, Phifer returned to Tuscaloosa and resumed his law practice, but wanted to get into manufacturing. In 1952, he founded Phifer Aluminum Screen Company. The company was renamed Phifer Wire Products in 1956.

Phifer married Sue Clarkson Phifer, a great-niece of Ellen Peter Bryce, whose husband was the first superintendent of Bryce Hospital.

Known for their charitable and civic contributions, the Phifers established the Reese Phifer Jr. Memorial Trust, set up in honor of their late son, which continues to support a number of local charities as well as the University of Alabama.

In 1981, the University of Alabama presented Mr. Phifer with the Tutwiler Award and, several years later, an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. In 1991, the University of Alabama College of Communication Building was renamed Reese Phifer Hall; that same year, Mr. Phifer was honored with the School of Commerce and Business Administration's "Entrepreneurship Award" and inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

Phifer was inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame in 2001, the first year of the award that was designed to honor citizens who had made long-term, significant contributions to the development of the county while at the same time celebrating the community's history and heritage.

The Phifers are survived by three daughters, Beverly Clarkson Phifer, Karen Phifer Brooks and Susan Phifer Cork.


Phifer, Incorporated


Betty Slowe (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

4 inches by 6 inches