I first met Phil Record in 1979 when he was the Region 8 director and I was named to head a new SPJ finance committee. SPJ was undergoing a fiscal crunch and Phil got deeply involved because he was considering running for national treasurer. He prepared the $7 million editorial budget for the Star-Telegram but said he couldn’t understand the $1 million SPJ budget. So he took the SPJ figures to Jack Condon, the new chief financial officer at the Star-Telegram, who couldn’t understand the figures either. So Phil got permission from the paper’s general manager to borrow Jack Condon to come to Chicago (where SPJ was headquartered at the time) and look at our financial management procedures. Thus, Phil made possible the Condon Report, which laid a road map for changing financial and administrative controls and organizing the budget.
As chair of a new planning committee in 1980, Phil laid out priorities and goals for the next three to five years, which were approved by the board in 1981. Phil was instrumental in introducing positive, dramatic changes to SPJ.
When he became president in November 1983, he organized a special national fundraising campaign. He helped launch Project Watchdog , a national public relations project. He started the “mini-summit” meetings with executives of other national media organizations. He was responsible for many of the 75th SPJ anniversary accomplishments including a hardbound book on “What a Free Press Means” containing letters from distinguished journalists.
He was able to accomplish much because of his warmth, friendliness and good humor. He inspired future SPJ leaders at the Leaders Retreats, telling how he pulled out of a deep depression. He helped found the Catholic church where his funeral was held, and he assisted many parishioners with their funeral arrangements. At Phil’s own funeral, the presiding bishop said he expected Phil to be there to help. Phil was known as “The Bishop of the South” and when he phoned the bishop one day and said the Bishop of the South was calling, the bishop replied: “And who am I, the bishop of the north?”
Whenever he stayed as a house guest in my home, he always left a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream hidden somewhere that I would find the next day.
Phil told me fifteen years ago that Bob Schieffer and I were to be pall bearers at his funeral. That was a phone call I never wanted to get.