GOLIAD, Texas – Friends and neighbors honored former Houston Oilers legend Bum Phillips during a memorial service Saturday afternoon.
In Goliad, Phillips was more than a famous football coach.
“I can’t see anybody that didn’t like Bum Phillips,” said Jerry Pickett, a friend Phillips.
“For me, (he’s) an inspiration,” said Chef Charlie Lara, who served Phillips’ food in a restaurant in town. “He inspires you to do more for people who need help, who want help.”
Phillips, who owned and lived on a ranch nearby, made memories with neighbors, too.
“He loved Goliad,” said Newton Warzecha, Phillips’ friend. “He loved the people here.”
At the high school, where wave after wave of well-dressed admirers went to pay respects, it was clear Goliad loved Phillips, too.
“He was a true Goliadian,” said Mayor Jay Harvey.
“He was a good friend and I’m proud to say he called me friend,” said Mickey Pillow. “He was the most patient guy. I remember times when strangers walked over to him and he’d stand there and talk to them as long as they wanted to talk.”
Jerry Pickett showed KHOU 11 News an old picture of Phillips from their college days as teammates at Stephen F. Austin University.
“He was a great man,” Pickett said. “I knew back then he was going to be a coach.”
Sixty years later, Phillips inspired a new generation.
“Bum was like a second grandpa,” Luke Walters said. “They called me their ‘loaner grandson.’”
Phillips encouraged Walters with words and example.
“Bum just always taught me to treat people well and they’ll treat you back in return,” Walters said.
Phillips spent lots of time with kids at the school, friends and family said. He was also working to build a home to teach sign language to families of deaf children.
“He always was positive,” Harvey said. “(He) always had an upbeat attitude. He just became a part of our community and we’re truly going to miss him.”
A final celebration of life for Phillips will happen at Houston’s Lakewood Church Tuesday night.