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Tom Phillips: Conservative Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Dies

Tom Phillips, a highly successful conservative entrepreneur and generous financial supporter of numerous conservative causes, died at his home in California on April 18, 2024.

In the summer of 1961, I left Houston, Texas to go to New York City and become Executive Secretary of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF).  In February 1962, I returned to Houston to marry Elaine O’Leary.  I’m happy to report that 62 years later, we’re still married and have been blessed with three children and six grandchildren.


Two months after Elaine and I were married, we took the train to Dartmouth College.  A sophomore student, Tom Phillips, had invited me to speak to a group of young conservatives.


The following morning, we woke up to a beautiful Dartmouth campus covered in a few inches of overnight snow.


That began a lifelong friendship with Tom.  We stayed in touch with visits and phone calls.


Around 1973, Tom was working at the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency in Chicago, Illinois, but was anxious to learn direct mail and become involved in the national conservative movement by working at The Viguerie Company.


But while Tom worked for a well-known national advertising agency, he didn’t know direct mail and I really didn’t have a job for him.


However, Tom was so anxious to come and work at our company that one day he surprised me and showed up at our office in Tysons Corner, Virginia unannounced with his new bride, Jan, saying “Richard I’m here, ready to go to work.”


Not expecting him, I said, “Uh, uh, Tom, there’s an empty office down the hall on the right. Go there and I’ll catch up with you later.”


Early on, Tom was interested in the newsletter business, and he took to direct mail/marketing like a duck to water.


We soon started two newsletters, The Retirement Letter, and The Pink Sheet on the Left.  After about four years at The Viguerie Company, Tom came to me one day and said he wanted to leave and take the newsletters with him.  I said I was sorry to see him go, but he was welcome to the newsletters.  They weren’t part of our core business, and I didn’t have the interest in them that Tom did.


In hindsight, I should have said, “I’m sorry to see you go Tom and you can have the newsletter business—I just want 10%.”


Tom went on to launch a highly successful international newsletter business.  Many marketing people today got their start at the Phillips International Publishing Company or worked there.


Decades later, Tom sold his business for a substantial sum of money and supported numerous conservative organizations and causes.


Tom also used the profits from his international newsletter business to help promote the conservative cause in numerous areas including his company Eagle Publishing, which owned a number of conservative publications and Regnery Publishing.


Rest in peace, my friend.

  • Tom Phillips

  • conservative movement

  • Young Americans for Freedom

  • Dartmouth College

  • Direct Mail

  • Newsletters

  • Phillips International publishing

  • Eagle Publishing

  • Regnery Publishing

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