Southern Living Loses A Founding Editor

A true visionary, Philip Morris helped shape our magazine, as well as countless homes, gardens, and communities across the South.

Philip Morris Portrait
A true visionary, Philip Morris helped shape not only our magazine, but homes, gardens, and communities across the South. Photo: Art Meripol

Philip Morris was a newspaper reporter in Oklahoma when Southern Living recruited him as Building Editor back in 1969. He would later enjoy a long tenure as Executive Editor of the magazine and become Editor at Large for Southern Living and two sister titles, Southern Accents and Coastal Living, before he retired in 2000.

"Before Phil came along, we were just publishing houses, with no clear vision of what a true Southern Living home should look like," said former Editor in Chief John Floyd. "From the moment he joined the magazine, Phil's knowledge of design helped set the tone, voice, and home styles that defined Southern Living. He also brought design professionals to the garden department, which took the magazine far beyond basic plant information and showcased the work of landscape architects and great garden designers across the South. There's no way to overstate how much he contributed to Southern Living—or what a wonderful friend he was to all of us."

A kind and compassionate soul, Philip was charming and elegant, with a relaxed grace and a wonderful sense of humor. He was a fine storyteller, an art lover, and an impassioned champion of beautiful architecture, livable neighborhoods, and historic preservation. He could make the world of design come alive for the uninitiated, a rare skill that helped shape Southern Living in the early days.

Philip's primary mission in life, it seemed, was to leave the South more beautiful than he found it—but it was never beauty for beauty's sake. He showed all of us that our surroundings can either enrich us or diminish us, enhance our sense of place or steal it away completely.

Through the articles he wrote, the Southern design community he embraced, the endless miles he traveled, and all the readers he met, Philip had a profound impact on how Southern Living and its audience thought of the spaces we call home—from our kitchens to our city parks. Here in Birmingham, his adopted hometown, he was unstoppable, playing a leadership role in too many projects to name, including a number of the city's signature parks and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. True to fashion, Philip invested the most time and energy into spaces everyone could enjoy.

His many honors include a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, induction into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, honorary memberships in the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects, and the Alabama Humanities Award, presented by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

Birmingham will not be the same without Philip. The South won't be the same. His many friends—especially his Southern Living family—will remember him with love and gratitude.

As Philip requested, memorial donations can be sent to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens at 2612 Lane Park Rd., Birmingham, AL 35223.

[Southern Living would like to say a special thanks to Art Meripol for allowing us to share his wonderful image of Philip.]

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