Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 19, 2013

Former GDN sports editor Phillips dead at 43

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Former Greensburg Daily News Sports Editor Darren Phillips has died.

Phillips, 43, had worked for the The Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph, Mich., as a sports writer since 2005.

He was hired at the Daily News by former editor Jim Morrison. Phillips was employed by the Daily News from 1992 to 1997.

Morrison said via telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that Phillips was one of his best hires during his GDN tenure.

“He had a great attitude and was extremely dependable,” Morrison recalled. “Darren was always gung ho on getting things done. You didn’t have to manage Darren. He came in, knew his job and what needed done, and he did it.”

Morrison hadn’t spoken with Phillips in years, but had recently “friended” him on Facebook.

Still, Phillips left a lasting impression on the former GDN editor. “He did everything with a super-positive attitude, too. You never worried about him getting anything done. In fact, you never had to worry about Darren at all.”

“One of the things I valued most about Darren,” Morrison added, “is that he was a straight shooter; he always gave you straight answers. That’s something I value in people I work with; I don’t like yes men. When you asked for his opinion about something, he gave it to you — whether he agreed with you or not.”

Jeff Emsweller, another former GDN editor who worked with Phillips, also lauded the former sports editor for a highly positive attitude and work ethic.

“I worked with him a couple years before he left GDN for a position in Columbus,” Emsweller said. “He loved high school sports and sports in general. He did such an exceptional job.”

Phillips oversaw the GDN sports department during a different era in the newspaper business, according to Emsweller.

“Newspapers were different back then,” he said. “Newspapers and each of their departments were bigger. Darren had a part-time sports writer who wrote 60 percent sports and 40 percent regular news coverage during the sports season, and would then write 40/60 during the offseason. He also had great second-string writers.”

He continued, “Darren made sure he covered all the hot games himself. He knew what had to be covered, had great relationships with all the coaches and knew all the players; he overlooked no one. He was a great cheerleader for all three schools in this county. He brought such a positive energy to his job.”

Emsweller further described Phillips as a man who was “firmly in touch with his inner child,” and a man who liked and appreciated the simple things in life.

Emsweller’s fondest memory of Phillips revolves around the former sports editor's love of popcorn.

“He never came back from a sports venue without a bag of popcorn in his hand” the former editor recalled. "He’d then proceed to describe how it tasted to the entire newsroom. Everyone really got a kick out of it. Then, once yearly, he’d write a column about the season’s best popcorn. We all really looked forward to that.”

The former editor also vividly recalls Phillips’ love of Michigan State basketball.

As of this writing, Michigan State and Indiana University were scheduled to play Tuesday night.

Emsweller said that, although he himself is a fervent IU supporter — “always have been, always will be” — he’d be “okay with it” if Michigan State proves victorious Tuesday.

“I know Darren will be up there somewhere rooting for his beloved Michigan State Tuesday night,” he said. “And I think he deserves a win.”

 

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.