Jacksonville sports community loses one of its biggest fans


A former Jacksonville Fightin' Indian football player, who went on to become one of the Jacksonville Independent School District's most ardent supporters for the past 40 years was called home on Sunday.

Phillip “Wolf” Whitaker died suddenly while watching a football game on television at his Jacksonville residence.

No information on the exact cause of death is available at this time and funeral arrangements are incomplete.

He is survived by his wife Patsy Knowlton Whitaker, who serves as principal at Jacksonville Middle School, and son Joshua, plus a large extended family.

For decades Wolf was a regular fixture at most all JISD sporting events, local youth sporting competitions (basketball, baseball, softball), as well as Jacksonville College and (now defunct) Lon Morris College basketball games.

He could always be found wearing a bucket hat, displaying a warm and genuine smile that people just couldn't forget, and with a camera in hand. Capturing all the countless moments to remember on the field, on the court and on the diamond was one of Wolf's passions in life.

He so generously supplied Cherokee County newspapers with tons of sports photographs (at no charge) through the years.

Wolf's real joy was supporting the students athletics, however.

From offering words of encouragement, to cheering the Indians and Maidens on and making so many feel like like “rocks stars” through his quality photographs, Wolf was all about the kids.

At most of the games Wolf would attend he would always have a pocket full of various flavors of chewing gum to hand out to the players and student trainers.

Several years ago the economy forced Wolf to make a career change that kept him away from home quite a bit, but prior to that time Wolf not only did the aforementioned things, but he took numerous Jacksonville High School boys to football games at Texas A&M University — Wolf loved the Aggies — boys that probably would not have had the means to see a Division I football game in person otherwise.

“I have so many great memories of Wolf,” local businessman and former Jacksonville Indian quarterback Matt Montgomery said. “From high school, to going to the A&M games together and taking kids down there just to see how big their eyes would get when they saw that place. Wolf loved that.”

Simply stated, what Wolf leaves the local sporting community with is the example that he set in making sure the games were all about the kids. The kids are the stars of the show and we all should remember that, just as those that knew Wolf will most likely remember him for a long time to come.


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