Monday, May 30, 2016

The Phillips Family Cross-Country Trip

     In 1975 well known local travel agent Don Phillips and his wife, real estate broker Jenny Phillips, bought a travel trailer and set off to discover backroads America. They had traveled all over the world in his work as a travel agent, but it was time to get close up and personal with the United States. Plans were made, maps were marked and they set off for the grand adventure. 

     Unfortunately, living in a travel trailer, stopping at a different campground each night, soon lost its luster and then, two months after they set out, they were involved in a serious accident on the highway. That sort of brought things to a standstill, literally and emotionally. They wound up in Austin, Texas, where they bought a house, started a vitamin shop in the college town, and did rather well in the health food business. They got healthier, wealthier, and happier in their new abode, putting their travel plans on hold indefinitely. 

     I went to visit them a few times, and was amazed to see the vitamin shop flourish with its version of the "smoothie," a relatively new idea at the time. I think they opened up a couple additional shops.  It was a great adventure for Don and Jenny both, even though it wasn't the one they had planned on. 

     I went to college with their son Donald K. Phillips Jr., and he became a good friend. He was active in radio production at WARB radio station in Covington for a while, but eventually followed his parents to Austin, TX, where he became involved in a wide variety of activities.

    According to the Austin American-Statesman , published April 9, 2003, Don K. Phillips Jr. died suddenly on Friday, April 4, 2003, in Austin at 50 years of age. He was born in Dallas, Texas, on September 25, 1953,  and grew up in Dallas, Cleveland, and Covington, LA.

   "Graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1975, he entered the United States Army as a second lieutenant, serving with 101st Airborne Division as a signal officer and a courier officer until 1979 when he received an honorable discharge. 

    "While in the Texas National Guard, Don was promoted to rank of captain, serving in the public information office at Camp Mabry and as a selective service officer. As a teen, Don became interested in broadcasting, beginning a career that lasted more than 30 years," his obituary went on to say. 

       In Austin, Don worked at in radio production with a local station, later becoming a helicopter traffic reporter with Skywatch Traffic. He also worked in the traffic reporting departments of two other radio stations. 

      "Don did post-graduate work in the field of nutrition, receiving a master's level certification while working at Vitafoods, Inc., his family's business. He later opened his own nutrition counseling office in the mid-1980's. He married in 1987. In 1992, Don and a business partner began Murder by Design, an interactive murder mystery theatre company. He continued his own career in film, television, commercial video and theatre in addition to his role as owner and operator of MBD Productions," the obituary concluded. 

Don K. Phillips Jr.