The H. Milt Phillips Award is the highest honor given by the Oklahoma Press Association. The OPA Board of Directors selects the recipient based on publishing a high-quality newspaper; contribution to the profession and the newspaper industry; years of service to the community, state and nation in a variety of volunteer activities and strong love and dedication to the family.
The award was established in 1978 by the OPA Board of Directors to recognize those they felt gave the same quality of service to family, community, country and newspapers as had H. Milt Phillips.
"Honored by many, regarded by others, feared and disliked by the crafty and corrupt," is the way ‘Cluttered Corner’ Phillips was described by those who founded the award.
"Phillips was the kind of editor all editors should be," they wrote. "He was involved. He gave freely of his love and concern..."
H. Milt Phillips purchased the Seminole Producer in April 1946. Prior to beginning his newspaper career, he served as department adjutant of the Oklahoma American Legion and as editor of the Oklahoma Legionnaire.
He served for two years in the Navy during World War II and, after returning home, was appointed by Gov. Robert Kerr to reorganize war veteran services in Oklahoma.
Phillips became general manager of the Seminole Producer in 1946. In 1950, he and his brother Tom purchased the two newspapers in Wewoka and merged them into one publication. When Tom Phillips was diagnosed with cancer in 1955, the brothers sold the Wewoka paper. Milt Phillips and his son, Ted, then consolidated the two Seminole papers to form the Seminole Daily Producer.
Phillips was active in the Oklahoma Press Association, holding several offices including president in 1954.
He was widely known as a civic leader and statewide industrial booster. Phillips was a long-time member of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society and was the moving force in the historical society’s efforts to microfilm all Oklahoma newspapers. He served on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and was a member of the Oklahoma Public Expenditures Council, Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Safety Council and Oklahoma Memorial Association. He also was affiliated with several highway booster groups and was inducted in the Oklahoma Heritage Association’s Hall of Fame.
H. Milt Phillips died on Feb. 27, 1979.