Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Legendary Publisher of The Oxford Eagle Dies

Long-time and legendary publisher of The Oxford Eagle, Jesse Phillips, has died.

Phillips earned his journalism degree from Ole Miss and, with his partner, the late Nina Goolsby, purchased The Oxford Eagle. Phillips was a civic and business leader who contributed much to Oxford, Lafayette County and Ole Miss.

Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Phillips
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Phillips

“Jesse and Jeanette Phillips have provided almost unparalleled leadership to the Ole Miss and Oxford community for nearly a half century,” said Ed Meek, publisher and owner of New Media Lab LLC, which operates “Jeanette was an outstanding teacher at Ole Miss and founder of the National Food Service Management Institute while Jesse served as Publisher of the Oxford Eagle. Jesse, a Journalism graduate at Ole Miss, was also mentor to many young journalists and businessmen, including me.”

The Oxford Eagle’s history dates to the last year of the Civil War. The Oxford Falcon, early forerunner of the Eagle, was established by Samuel More Thompson in 1865 with the motto “Truth is a weapon with which we fight.”

In 1961 the Eagle was purchased by Jesse Phillips, Nina Goolsby and Walter S. Featherston.  Phillips was the linotype operator, Goolsby was the bookkeeper and Featherston was the shop foreman.

Later, Phillips and his wife, Jeanette, and Goolsby and her husband, J.C., bought out the Featherston family and Phillips became publisher while Goolsby became a renowned advertising manager, as the weekly newspaper converted to daily status. The Eagle earned many awards for journalism excellence in competitions sponsored by the Mississippi Press Association.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time, but Waller Funeral Home is in charge of the service.