Never forget a friendly welcome

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 12, 2016

I almost thought about not doing a “good-bye” or “farewell” column to wish Tim Phillips all the best.

I almost didn’t feel worthy enough because I have not had the pleasure of working with Tim as long as most of my co-workers. I don’t have all the years of stories and experiences many of them can relate to when they think of Tim. But I thought about it and realized just because Tim and I don’t have a long history of working together doesn’t mean I don’t have some great memories.

It has been almost a year ago to the day that I came up to Oxford from the Mississippi Coast and interviewed for the position of managing editor at The EAGLE.

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I’ll never forget it.

Tim and Don Whitten wanted to meet me on a Sunday afternoon at The EAGLE office. Of course, trying to get to the office on one-way Jackson Avenue was nearly impossible for someone who had been to Oxford just once. But I finally pulled up in front of the office after calling Tim twice for directions.

He was standing outside the building as I got out of my car and didn’t shake my hand. Our first encounter was a hug, which I quickly found out was the norm for Tim.

The three of us walked over to Old Venice Pizza and got a bite to eat and talked and it just felt right. Tim has that way about him where he can put people at ease.

The next day, I came back for a trial run in the newsroom and passed the audition pretty good. Before I left Oxford and headed back to the Coast, Tim and Don offered me the position and I accepted.

After signing on the dotted line, I of course got a big ol’ hug from Tim.

It wasn’t long after I started working at The EAGLE that I quickly felt at home and a big reason why is Tim Phillips. He is like working with your brother and not your “boss.” And it didn’t take me long to see how dedicated he is to this newspaper. From writing and editing copy to stuffing newspapers on a Saturday night that turned into Sunday morning. I’m convinced there is nothing he wouldn’t do for this newspaper or the people who work here.

Tim is the type who wouldn’t ask his employees to do anything he wouldn’t do himself, which is a sign of a true leader.

I’ll never forget the first Saturday night I worked the news desk and was heading home around 11 p.m. and walked back to the pressroom to find Tim back there stuffing newspapers for the carriers to deliver. I offered to stick around and help him, but his words like they have been so many other times were: “Get out of here and get some rest. Thanks, Rob. I appreciate ya and I’m glad you’re here.”

And in the year that I have lived in this community, I have yet to hear a single person speak badly of Tim, which really amazes me considering he has been with the newspaper for 35 years and one would think he would have made some enemies.

We’ve only worked together for a year, but it seems like we’ve known each other for years.

I’ve seen him go through a lot in the past year. From his best friend Don retiring from the newspaper to his father and the patriarch of the newspaper passing away to the newspaper relocating to a new location. It’s been a tough year and so I respect his decision to “try something else.”

It was only a year together, but I’m so thankful he gave me this opportunity. I’ve made more than a friend in Tim. I have a new brother and “I appreciate ya.”

Rob Sigler is managing editor of The Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at