Thomas J. “Tom” Phillips, Jr. Obituary


Thomas J. “Tom” Phillips, Jr. 1932 – 2022

Pana, IL—Thomas J. “Tom” Phillips, Jr., 90, of Pana died Monday, August 29, 2022 at Heritage Health—Pana. He was born March 20, 1932 in Pana, IL to the late Thomas J. Phillips, Sr. and Della (Comerford) Phillips. Tom married Doris Elizabeth Christner on June 16, 1956 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Rectory, Pana. She preceded him in death on February 20, 2016.

Tom graduated from Pana High School, Class of 1951. He attended Eastern Illinois University for a year before enlisting in the United States Navy. He then served on active duty for four years and retired from the reserves as chief petty officer after a total of 32 years of service. At 23, he began his career at the Pana News-Palladium in 1956.

Journalism was Tom’s life and hobby! He started his career early as co-editor of the Pana High School newspaper, the “Pana Pacer”, his senior year. He honed his craft while serving in the Navy, before being assigned to the Public Information Office of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Together with his wife, Doris, they were the owners and publishers of Pana News-Palladium for over 50 years. They were also owners and publishers of the Nokomis Free Press-Progress, the Assumption Golden Prairie News and the Morrisonville Times.

He is past president of the Illinois Press Association and the Southern Illinois Editorial Association. He was a member of the National Newspaper Association and received the NNA President’s Award for Distinguished Service to Community Journalism in 2007. He served as Vice President of the Illinois Press Association Foundation and was instrumental in building the headquarters of the IPA just south of Springfield.

He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Press Association and was inducted at Southern Illinois University into the Carbondale Journalism Hall of Fame and named editor-in-chief. He is past president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Throughout his career, he has won numerous national and national writing awards.

Through the influence of his Pana newspaper, Tom single-handedly raised nearly $100,000 to repair the roof and floor of Kitchell Park’s historic Chautauqua Pavilion in the early 2000s and saved the switch tower from the Illinois Central Railroad from Pana through its individual purchase of the property. He helped fund Pana’s Labor Day Parade for many years with his newspaper’s “Pennies for the Parade” campaign.

Tom was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Pana and a 4th Degree Knight with Pana Knights of Columbus Council #896. Tom was Past President of the Pana Lions Club, Pana Chamber of Commerce, and founding board member of the Pana Community Hospital Foundation.

He was also a member of the committee that helped buy the Misericordia Sisters Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

He was selected as Grand Marshal of the Pana Labor Day Parade in 1997 and received the Pana Jaycee Distinguished Service Award and the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award from Pana Elks Lodge 1261. He is included on the Pana High School Wall of Fame. He served as chairman of the Christian County Elderly Housing Authority and oversaw the construction of Parkway Apartments in Pana. He received the Service Award from the Christian County Economic Development Corporation in 2004.

Tom was a member of the Pana Lions Club, Pana American Legion Post, Pana AMVEST Post, Korean War Veterans, and Catholic War Veterans. He served on the Pana Police Pension Board and served as the organization’s secretary for many years.

He served as Christian County Deputy Coroner for 24 years.

Tom is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth A. “Beth” (David) Bennett, Madison, WI; son-in-law, Tom Latonis, Pana, IL; grandchildren: Alicia Phillips Bennett (Alex) Dingee, Nicole Phillips (Josh) Bonn and Jacob Thomas Latonis.

He has three great-grandchildren: Joshua Dean “JJ” Bonn, Jr., Ellie Nicole Bonn and Archer James Dingee.

In addition to his parents and wife, he was predeceased by his daughters: Cynthia J. “Cindy” Phillips-Latonis and Patricia M. “Trish” Spracklen and her grandson, Thomas Phillips Latonis.

Visitation for Tom is Friday, September 16, 2022 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Pana. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m., followed by a memorial mass at 11:30 a.m. with Reverend Rodney Schwartz officiating. Private burial will take place at a later date at Calvaire Cemetery, Pana.

Memorials in honor of Tom can be made at Sacred Heart School and will be accepted by McCracken-Dean Funeral Home which assists the family.

Posted on September 02, 2022

Published in The State Journal-Register

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