Goliad says farewell to Bum Phillips (video)
Oct. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.
GOLIAD - Bum Phillips was well known as a football coach.
But not so many knew of his love for ice cream.
"He ate four Nutty Buddys a day," said Dee Jean Hurta, Phillips' daughter, who lives in Goliad. "I ate a bowl of ice cream and thought about him."
Phillips, who died Oct. 18 at his Goliad County ranch at the age of 90, was remembered at a memorial service attended by about 200 people Saturday at the Goliad High School auditorium.
Phillips' wife, Debbie, and his five daughters attended the service conducted by David Parks of the Trail Head Cowboy Church.
Phillips was buried in a private service at the family ranch Wednesday that daughter Andrea McCarthy, of Dripping Springs, said included a hearse drawn by two white horses and a 21-gun salute from a Marine Corps color guard from Corpus Christi.
"He touched lives in ways that you can't imagine," McCarthy said.
The service began with a slide show of Phillips' life accompanied by the music of Willie Nelson.
Phillips' commitment to charity, which led his family to start the Bum Phillips Retreat that included a summer camp for deaf children at the ranch, was evident.
A sign language interpreter was at the service for the campers in attendance.
"I visited with Coach a week ago, and we had a good visit," said Herb Adkins, who played for Phillips in high school at Nederland and traveled from his Shiner residence for the service. "He knew this, but before I left, I told him I loved him, and he said the feeling was mutual. What a man. All of us old jocks lost a leader, but his influence will live forever."
Leon Fuller also played for Phillips at Nederland. He went on to have a 40-year coaching career before becoming a high school athletic director in Austin and Odessa.
"I was the first project he took on," said Fuller, who was the service's first speaker. "He showed that even skinny, slow kids could win."
Fuller said his family was having trouble making ends meet and had moved to Cameron before his older brother took him back to Nederland.
"I remember my brother telling me to get my things, and I put a pair of jeans and a few shirts in a paper sack," Fuller said. "He said, 'If you aren't in Nederland playing football, you'll never go to college.'"
Fuller was recruited by Alabama and Georgia after playing at Tyler Junior College.
He had made up his mind to attend Georgia, which he said violated NCAA rules by promising to send him on a vacation before he enrolled in school.
But he changed his mind after Phillips called and told him if he wanted to become a coach, he would be better off playing for coach Bear Bryant at Alabama.
"He said if you go to Alabama, those will be the toughest two years of your life," Fuller recalled. "But he said the next 40 years are going to be a lot easier."
Fuller was coaching at the University of Texas when Phillips became familiar with running back Earl Campbell.
Fuller's daughter would often attend practice and became a favorite of Campbell, who went on to play for Phillips with the Houston Oilers.
Fuller was with his daughter and happened to run into Phillips, who yelled across the room that Fuller was the best player he ever coached.
"My daughter tugged at me," Fuller said. "She said, 'Did he forget he coached Earl Campbell?'"
Fuller said that was just another example of how Phillips treated people.
"He loved kids, coaching and the state of Texas," Fuller said. "He loved everybody he was involved with. So many lives have been touched by him in everything he did."
Phillips' daughter, KimAnn England, of Goliad, said when her father moved to the ranch in 1995, it proved to be a blessing and allowed him to truly savor life.
"It all slowed down, and he could enjoy being one of the guys," England said. "He really became a part of the community. The kids at the high school didn't know about all his coaching. They just knew him as the guy who came to practice and helped them out."
Phillips will be further remembered 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at a public celebration service at Lakewood Church in Houston.