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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 • Posted November 17, 2010

A ‘Record’ Life…

Joined at the hip with his profession and at the heart with humanity, Phil Record signed "30" to a life of benediction, succumbing to a massive heart attack recently at age 81.

He had a 43-year career at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; it spanned pre-college copy boy chores that later included police beats, editorships and eventual ombudsman duties until retirement 13 years ago.

Influenced by two uncles who were recognized Star-Telegram figures during the first half of the 20

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He was a mentor to many and a friend to multitudes more who gathered to remember him at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, where he was an active lay leader.

For decades he took the lead in numerous church-related roles, particularly details of funerals. Ever the good listener and comforter, he guided hundreds of people through times of hurt, disappointment and loss.

In retirement, he taught two media ethics classes each semester as a professional-in-residence in the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University….

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At the memorial service, Bob Schieffer masterfully encapsulated Record’s life. A TCU alumnus and respected CBS news figure for more than four decades, Schieffer described his mentor in superlatives.

Phil was already a well-known police reporter when Schieffer began his career with on-the-scene radio reports on what he called the "three R’s"—wrecks, riots and robberies, or something close to that. The 20-year-old’s "Yes, I can type" response to a KXOL hiring prerequisite helped him land the job. (Turning to the row of priests behind him, he asked forgiveness, since "home keys" were foreign to him at the time.)

He soon learned the importance of typing skills, watching his mentor persuade detectives to let him type the statements at crime or accident scenes, thus saving them time—and providing important quotes for his stories….

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Schieffer also learned the value of wearing hats. Crime scene witnesses, Record believed, assumed that guys wearing hats were detectives to whom they spoke far more freely than to reporters. So Schieffer bought a hat.

After Air Force service, he succeeded Record on the police beat, a hire his mentor had recommended.

Record’s confidence in Schieffer was well placed. Soon, his mentee was writing award-winning pieces, including coverage of Vietnam and President Kennedy’s assassination….

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The CBS icon spent just 15 minutes painting the picture of a grand friendship. He said he "owed as much to Phil as to any other person on earth," and called him his "best friend for more than 50 years."

Schieffer, for whom the TCU School of Journalism is named, believes that reporters like Record "are the reason journalism evolved into what it became in modern America—the crucial source of independently-gathered, accurate information that citizens can compare to the government’s version of events. We can no more have democracy without that than we could have it without the right to vote."

Two days later on his Face the Nation TV program, Schieffer offered another misty-eyed tribute, claiming that Record "taught me everything I know about being a reporter and a lot of what I know about life."…

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Record was a rock in the lives of generations. That’s why a total of more than 1,200 mourners from all walks of life attended the Vigil and the Mass of Christian Burial.

He met deadlines for decades, but still found time daily to serve others, play tennis, converse and above all, provide encouragement with the good news of Jesus Christ. Phil also championed his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, whose victory song was played on the organ during the Vigil.

Peers throughout the nation admired Record, a former national president of Sigma Delta Chi, society of professional journalists….

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Nearing age 70, when most others opted for retirement, he "switched gears" to teach at TCU. His classes filled quickly, and his student evaluations glowed. Ever the champion of ethics and integrity, his regard for truth parallels Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story’s quote some 200 years ago: "Here shall the press the people’s right maintain, unaw’d by influence and unbrib’d by gain."

At the burial, dozens of white balloons rose skyward. Someone said it was so God would know Phil was coming. Truth to tell, so organized was this newsman that he wrote detailed instructions for his funeral. The balloon release was last on his checklist filed away a decade ago, well ahead of his final deadline.

He was the epitome of attention to details, and he lived life right. The song lyric fit him to a "T": "On his dying day, that was all he really needed to do."…

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

th century (James R. Record and James North), Phil had early exposure to fairness, the work ethic and "getting it right." Such was the foundation of his newspapering during the golden years….

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