Philip Austin Berkebile (1936–2020)

May 28, 2020


Philip Austin Berkebile Sr., 83, passed away peacefully on May 1, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his family by his side.

Berkebile was born December 26, 1936 in Wichita, Kansas to John William and Madelyn (Austin) Berkebile. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and friend to many. Phil accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and always put others ahead of himself. He was totally and completely devoted to his family and friends and was loved deeply by all who knew him.

Berkebile retired as executive vice president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association in 2004 after serving 22 years in Austin, Texas. He was executive director of the Nebraska Press Association in Lincoln from 1973 to 1985. Prior to these positions, he worked as the general manager of the Hastings, Nebraska, and Dodge City, Kansas, Chambers of Commerce; and was executive assistant to Kansas U.S. Congressman Robert E. Ellsworth. He also held positions with the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce; Great Plains Wheat Corporation; and the Abilene (Kansas) Reflector–Chronicle newspaper.

Professional accomplishments during his 38–year journalistic career include resolutions adopted by both the Texas House of Representatives and Texas State Senate recognizing his efforts in regard to First Amendment and Freedom of Information issues. He served as president of the Newspaper Association Managers of America, president of American Newspaper Representatives, a director of the National Newspaper Association, a director of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, a director of the Texas Tech University School of Journalism, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, and president of the Organization of Newspaper Advertising Directors.

Berkebile is survived by his wife of 63 years, Judy (Blasi) Berkebile of Lincoln, and his seven children: Philip Jr. (Tonna) of Coppell, Texas; Valerie Gibbens (Don) of Lincoln; Madelyn (Lyn) Clark (John) of Olsburg, Kansas; Janet Berkebile of Lincoln; Andrea Berkebile of Austin, Texas; John Berkebile of Austin; Chris Berkebile of Austin; and his brother, Karl Berkebile (Deb) of Euless, Texas. He is also survived by his 16 grandchildren: Jacob, Sam and Jessica Gibbens; Riley and Madelyn Berkebile; Andrew and Jamie Petersen (Ocken); Savannah and Sierra Clark; Elizabeth and Alexa Roper; Emma, Tim, Dalton and Ava Berkebile; Suree Berkebile; and four great grandchildren including Hunter Garratt; Charlie Albin-Roper; Lydia Petersen and Paige Ocken; as well as his nieces, Karen Mandeville and Bridget Berkebile and nephew Karl Berkebile. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Madelyn (Austin) Berkebile, and brother, John Walter Berkebile.

A celebration of Phil's life coordinated by Roper & Sons of Lincoln, Nebraska, will be announced and held at a later date. Burial will be in Wellington, Kansas. Memorials may be directed to the Wellington, Kansas, Humane Society, 203 W. Hillside Rd, P.O. Box 494, Wellington, KS 67152.