Little Rock lost one of its finest with the passing of Dan Phillips last week. He personified the best of Arkansans with a love for his native state which was reflected in his many contributions.
Dan's parents did him a great turn when they sent him to Phillips Exeter Academy, arguably the best boarding school in America then. Schools like Exeter schooled their students in a classical education, from Latin and the Romance languages to world civilization and classical American and world literature. As Dan said himself, he learned more in two years at Exeter than he did at four years at Yale.
As a buyer, Dan had a natural eye for stylish and handsome clothing. He took the family-owned store, M.M Cohn, to new heights, becoming the leading luxury department store in Arkansas.
After he became head of the family business, he expanded, adding stores in affluent El Dorado and later Memphis, as well as expanding to the new malls in greater Little Rock.
His many contributions to charities and causes in Little Rock are too numerous to name. He particularly enjoyed his service on the George W. Donaghey Foundation board, offering sage advice, especially regarding investments, which grew appreciably while he was chairman.
Dan loved duck hunting, both the sport and the camaraderie. Whether you were with Dan in the duck woods, at an Arkansas Arts Center reception, or at a dinner, you knew you were with someone who was highly intelligent, wise, and chose his words carefully. He exemplified the best of masculinity, with a deep, resonant voice, bushy eyebrows and a unique twinkle in his eye. He was not one for idle chit-chat, but if you were interested in a deep and important discussion, you were rewarded with his thoughts.
Men like Dan Phillips are few and far between. His decision to devote his life and career to his hometown of Little Rock means we all live in a better Arkansas today.
Editorial on 03/12/2019
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