OC Pays Tribute to Lou Phillips

At Oklahoma Christian University, saying the name “Lou” has the same effect as saying “Cher” or “Elvis” to music fans. No last name is needed because everyone knew “Lou.” She was a friend of OC in every sense of the word.

Longtime staff member Lou Phillips passed away on January 6. During more than three decades at Oklahoma Christian, Lou served as executive assistant to President J. Terry Johnson (64) and later as a coordinator of special projects, where her work won friends for the university worldwide.

Placing a best foot forward for the university, Lou spent two decades beside its president and first lady, directing an office and countless events virtually behind the scenes.

“Whatever it takes to do the job,” Lou is said to have responded just before she accepted her position with Dr. Johnson. The rest is history. She followed that statement with tireless service to Oklahoma Christian that culminated in a 1995 Spring Dinner in her honor.

Lou was the liaison between Dr. Johnson and highly distinguished guests, including the President of the United States.

In 1992, Lou was the university’s official hostess for President George Bush’s official campaign visit to the campus. Prior to the visit, Lou worked with White House advance staff, making necessary arrangements, which included finding suitable rooms for the White House press corps, and she assisted members of the Secret Service with their security needs.

She also worked on other details, such as arranging the president’s holding room and where to put the Teleprompter. She also delivered some information about OC to Bush’s speechwriter.

Lou recalled her introduction to President Bush. “Everybody says he’s really personable, and he really is,” she said. “He’s so down to earth that you just feel you can talk to him as if you’ve known him a while.”

Not only did Lou meet President George Bush, she also got to meet George W. Bush, not once, but two times prior to his becoming president.

After Lou’s death, George W. Bush sent a personal letter of condolences to the Phillips family.

Energetic, dedicated, creative, organized, fun, talented, capable, responsible, flexible and thorough are all words Lou’s coworkers used to describe her.

Lou also embodies the phrase “King Maker,” as she considers former OC president Kevin Jacobs (82) and current Pepperdine University president Andrew Benton (74) her boys.

Just before she passed away, she told current OC president John deSteiguer to “take care of OC.” Those words are displayed in the new Lou Phillips Welcome Center in the lobby of the Garvey Center.

“Lou Phillips was such a dear friend to so many of us,” deSteiguer said. “She was known far and wide because she was hospitality ‘capitalized.’ Lou had a way about her to make people feel welcomed, at home and special.”

On the occasion of OC’s 50th anniversary in 2000, Lou was named one of the “50 Who Made A Difference” at Oklahoma Christian. The above story includes an excerpt from that 2000 tribute along with an excerpt of a 2005 Edmond Sun feature by Mark Schlachtenhaufen. 

Spring 2013

View more stories from the Spring 2013 issue of Vision magazine.