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Remembering Dan Phillips

Dec. 12, 2005, is a date that never leaves my mind. My older brother, Dan, went to a better place that day after battling kidney disease for many years. Ten years have passed, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Dan was just 47 years young when he died.

Dan was the oldest of three boys and was always a joy to be around. He did have a temper and that usually came out at the EAGLE dealing with my Dad over business or personnel issues. I was always the peacemaker and my younger brother, Andy, was always the one getting into trouble.

I remember Dan being a loving big brother, one who wanted only the best for his family. The one fault he had was that he wasn’t a very good driver; he was involved in numerous car wrecks in high school. He chose to move away after college and had a new appreciation for Oxford when he returned.

He was president of Phi Psi fraternity while at Ole Miss and it was obvious that he was going to be a leader in any endeavor that he chose. His work with the Mississippi Press Association and the National Newspaper Association never went unnoticed by his peers.

Dan loved his own family as well. He was a loving husband to Susan and a loving father to his two daughters, Margaret Goodwyn and Mary August. He cherished every moment he could spend with them. Even when he forgot to bring them lunch or pick them up after school, those girls still loved their Dad.

Andy and I talk quite often about Dan and how much we miss him. Dan’s office was next to mine, and we often just talked through the walls while working at the EAGLE. I still hear his voice sometimes just like he is still there. I was blessed to be able to work with Dan and my father for so many years. There is such a void without them in the EAGLE offices today.

I never really realized how much pain my brother was in most days. I knew when his gout was bad by him hobbling around the office. Having issues with gout now, I understand his pain. Anyone who has ever watched someone undergo kidney dialysis understands what a person goes through to get their blood filtered to remove the toxins. Dan was in constant pain, but always had a smile.

Andy’s recollection of those final days in Birmingham, Alabama, we spent together are much better than mine. He remembers the last time all three of us ate together and shared our last drink at a seafood restaurant. He remembers Dan, hurting so badly that night after we ate, bending over to give a homeless person some money while we walked back to our hotel.

Andy and I remember the three of us sitting in the hospital room on Thanksgiving Day after the surgery. We watched the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos play football, but we did not realize this would be the last game the three of us would ever see together.

Life after Dan’s death has never been the same. My parents have never gotten over his death; what parents ever could after the loss of a child? Our family will never be the same on so many fronts, and I know that would grieve “Big Dan” if he were alive now.

I know the old adage that someone in Heaven, if given the choice, would never come back to earth. The older I get, the more I understand those words.

I look forward to the day I see my brother’s smile again and we are reunited. I love and miss you Big Brother, but I know you are free of pain.

Tim Phillips is publisher of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at tim.phillips@oxfordeagle.com.