Tulare alumnus brightens Bob Mathias Stadium after his death

(Rigo Moran)

Tulare Union High School 1956 alumni Jack Phillips leaves $1 million to two Tulare Schools, Tulare High School District makes improvements to Bob Mathias Stadium

TULARE –  The Tulare Joint Union High School District will be putting in a new scoreboard and video board after receiving an unexpected gift from an unexpected alumni.

About a year after the death of 1956 Tulare Union High School (TUHS) alumnus John “Jack” Phillips, the Tulare Joint Union High School District received a call about a trust left to the district. Phillips left half a million dollars to the district without any stipulations on how they could use the funding. The district has decided to use that funding in the biggest way they thought they could to honor him – an 18 by 32 foot scoreboard and video board at Bob Mathias Stadium on Tulare Union’s campus.

TUHS was one of seven beneficiaries to receive funding from Philips. Before Tulare Union, he attended St. Aloysius School in Tulare and they were also one of the beneficiaries. According to his executor and long time friend Fred Weldy, Philips loved education and wanted to leave his life savings to worthy causes.

“He was a really wonderful man, very helpful to lots of people and very cultured,” Weldy said. “He just wanted to give back because he felt…very grateful that we ended up comfortable in life later on.”

The current score board has lived a long life, but has seen better days. Though Phillips was big in arts and theater, the district felt the funding would be better served in an area where he could be honored in a bigger way. Vivian Hamilton, chief business officer for TJUHSD said the district felt this was a good choice because it would be seen by thousands of people each year.

“There were no stipulations with regard to how we were to use the money…but we did want to honor the fact that he was a Tulare Union grad,” Hamilton said. “So we kind of wanted to keep it [on Tulare Union’s Campus].”

The large scoreboard and video board will have a “donated by” area at the bottom with Phillips name. Being that the stadium is named after olympic athlete and Tulare alumni, Bob Mathias the olympic rings will still be present to honor him as well as other olympic athletes from the area.

Hamilton said the district is honored to have been one of seven recipients of funding from Phillips. As they were not expecting the funding, it has been a huge help. The score board will be 18 feet wide and the video board will be on top of that reaching 32 feet high.

“He was a football lover, he loved the 49ers and so if football is being played there I’m sure he would appreciate it,” Weldy said.

In addition to the new scoreboard, the district will be using the remaining amount of funding to replace the lighting in the stadium. The current light fixtures are dull, missing some bulbs and not energy efficient according to Hamilton. So the district will be switching them to LED. Not only will it be cost efficient over time, the lighting should be directed more deliberately on the field causing less light pollution. Hamilton said the video board will be extremely beneficial during graduation season. They will be able to show each student as they receive their diploma allowing for a better view for family members in the stands.

Hamilton said the district is hopeful they will be able to have the scoreboard completed by the first football game next year. If not by the first game it will be completed throughout the season. As for the light replacement, the district is hopeful it will also be completed before the first game, however if it is not it will have to wait until after soccer season.

Phillips was born in Tulare as the youngest of four boys. According to Weldy he was a lifelong teacher. Even after retirement from Palo Alto High School he taught Shakespear to middle school children. He loved the arts and always tried to better everyone’s life. Weldy said he thinks Phillips had wonderful mentors throughout his school years and he said it was his mission as a teacher to do the same for others. He split his life savings between St. Aloysius, TJUHSD, Palo Alto High School, University of San Francisco and three other charities.

“He had told me long ago that…‘I really wanted to go to places that could use it,’ and I think it was just always on his mind that he wanted to make sure he gave back to where he came from,” Weldy said.

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