Eight Bells: Dave Philips

Published on December 9th, 2020

Dave Philips

David McCord Philips passed away November 27 at Brightview Commons in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. He was age 94.

After graduating high school in 1944, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and deployed to the Pacific as a meteorologist on an aircraft carrier. Stationed as part of the 8000-vessel fleet gathered at Ulithi for the invasion of Japan, he and his fellow sailors were relieved to learn of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Following the Japanese surrender he finished his tour of duty in 1946 and returned home to go to college on the GI Bill. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1951 he began his career as a journalist working for publications in Prescott, AZ, Nampa, ID, Wallingford, CT and New Haven, CT before coming to the Providence Journal, where he worked as a sports journalist for 36 years until his retirement.

David loved covering sailing and his coverage of the America’s Cup races in Newport, RI, San Diego, CA and Perth, Australia made the Providence Journal the newspaper of record for following the America’s Cup. Even 20 years after his retirement, a trip to the waterfront always included people recognizing him and coming up to reminisce.

“If you raced sailboats on Narragansett Bay from the 1960s to the 1990s you knew Dave Philips,” recalled ProJo colleague Michael Szostak. “If you skippered a 12-meter yacht on Rhode Island Sound during the hey-day of America’s Cup racing in Newport, you knew Dave Philips. If you crewed aboard a boat in the Newport-Bermuda race, you knew Dave Philips.”

Dave served as Chairman of RI Boating Council, held memberships in US Sailing and Narragansett Bay Yachting Association, and worked as a correspondent for Yachting Magazine for 10 years in the 1970s. The Narragansett Bay Yachting Association awarded him the William E. Tripp trophy for making an outstanding contribution to yachting and yacht racing on Narragansett Bay for 36 years.

Known to have quipped, “I’ve covered every sport but ladies wrestling,” his interests ranged well beyond his impressive knowledge of sports statistics and facts. He recalled a vast repertoire of college and university fights songs and could add a song lyric or apt quotation to any conversation. He knew all the songs and cheers for his alma mater, Wesleyan, where he served as Secretary of the Class of 1951 from 1971 until 2019.

His love of singing led him to sing in a cowboy barbershop quartet in Prescott, AZ and later in his church choir at St. Martin’s Church in Providence. Additionally, he possessed an abiding interest in the weather sparked by his naval service as a meteorologist. He faithfully followed The Weather Channel, which may have even preempted ESPN as his favorite. Each year he purchased a Farmer’s Almanac and inserted blank pages to keep track of the actual weather compared to the Almanac’s prediction.

As much as he loved sports, weather and singing, he also loved dogs, especially a series of Miniature Schnauzers. His idea of contentment was a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire with a dog in his lap.

He is survived by two brothers, Daniel Philips of Pompano Beach, Florida and John Philips of Silver Spring, Maryland, a sister, Caroline Norwood of Emeryville, California and his special friend, Constance Hargreaves and her family of Cranston, RI.

He is also survived by many cousins including, Nancy Burroughs of Peace Dale, RI, Tom Rowe of Middletown, RI, Andy Rowe of Hope, ME, Clark Tyler of McLean, VA, Terry Tyler of Dorset, VT and David Rowe of Northbrook, IL.

Due to COVID restrictions the graveside service at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI will be private. A memorial to celebrate his life will be held next spring or summer. In lieu of flowers contributions may be sent to St. Martin’s Church 50 Orchard Avenue Providence, RI 02906.

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