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Saying farewell to the EAGLE

Today is my last day as publisher at The Oxford EAGLE.  I will still be around to help when necessary, but I realize after 35 years, that a change is needed.

I have met many wonderful people on this journey at The EAGLE. There are too many to name personally, but I will mention a few who have been there on this adventure and have been such a huge part of my life.

Two of the main people I had the pleasure of working with were my dad and my brother, Dan. I learned so much from both of them during the years. I will always treasure that time we had together. Sometimes we had our disagreements, but we knew we were all working together to put out the best paper possible.

My dad had two lessons that he voiced repeatedly as we were growing up. The first being that if we got in trouble with the law, we wouldn’t be on Page 2 where the police report was; we would instead be prominently featured on Page 1. He also reminded us, “We don’t really own The EAGLE; we are entrusted with it for a short period of time in its long history, and the paper belongs to the residents of the Oxford and Lafayette County community.”

I always remember his words as we worked to improve this community by doing whatever necessary. This may have included writing editorials for a bond issue for our schools, or challenging our local officials on something we disagreed with. Have we made mistakes? Yes, we have, but I like to think that in some way, The EAGLE has had a positive influence on this community.

The members of The EAGLE staff are the ones who need to be thanked for the job they do on a daily basis. Long hours, deadlines and more junk food than you can think of are the norm. To the many people I have had the pleasure of working with, I can’t thank all of you enough. Rarely did I have to fire anyone, as we always seemed to make the best out of any situation at The EAGLE.

One person I depended on for so long was former EAGLE Editor, Don Whitten, who retired in July. Don worked for 38 years at The EAGLE and we shared both good and bad times together. The only time I can remember Don getting mad at me was when I was supposed to take pictures of an Ole Miss game in 1979. It was raining really hard and I had been at a fraternity party the night before. It was really late when I finally turned in. I believed with it raining, no one would miss me. I was wrong and Don let me know on Sunday when he was looking for the film from the game.

I cannot thank Don enough for everything he has done for me. He mentored me and has been a friend that I will never forget. I would also like to thank the Goolsby and Vasilyev families for our long relationship during the tenure of our ownership of The EAGLE. Some other former employees I would like to thank are as follows: Lucy Shultze, Jon Scott, Jeff Eubanks, Belinda Jones, Tommy Cox, Ann Huggins, Cathy Herren, Gloria Bishop, Wade Smith and Brian Roy.

The present staff of Jessica Harwell, Amanda Schnugg, Rebekah Tettleton, Nikki Buford, Kathy Wile, Wade Griffin, Delia Childers, Ross Thornton, Tori Waits, Davis Potter, Jake Thompson, Bruce Newman, Stephanie Rebman, Alyssa Schnugg, Rob Sigler, LaReeca Rucker, Michael Quirk, Catherine Boone, Pat Foster, Chey Moore, Stephanie Tyson, James Young, Eddie Lance and Rayford Brassell play a vital role in the production of The EAGLE and are like my family.

I started in the circulation department and have always enjoyed the mailroom, pressroom and the carriers. I would like to thank Chris Slate, Darrel Buford, Jessie Wortham, Joyce Pegues, Kenny Buford, Vassor Joiner, Antonio Smith, Leatha Brady, Marjorie Young, Zeke Cooper, Milton Jones, Roscoe Slate, Roxanne Crawford, Sandra Hipps, Malcolm Webb, Randy Buford and Billy Tyson for all they do on a daily basis to get the paper delivered to our subscribers.

I would also like to thank all of our columnists who have submitted stories and editorials. They care about our community and their articles reflect their concerns. I thank them all for dedication and commitment.

Most of all, I want to thank the citizens of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community for supporting the EAGLE for 148 years. The Oxford EAGLE is the paper of this community. We need a strong local paper that will stand up for the citizens when needed and record the history of events taking place in our community. The EAGLE is that paper and should be supported by all.

Leaving The EAGLE is one of the toughest decisions I have ever made. Ink has been in my blood for all of my life. I realize now though, that life moves on for all of us. My thanks to all of you for your kind words of support and encouragement over the years.

This is my last column as publisher of The EAGLE, but it’s also the start of a new chapter in my life.

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