In the 1910s, Phil Schuyler joined the Canadian Royal Air Force. He was an American — a descendant, in fact, of Philip Schuyler, a general in the American Revolution and U.S. senator from New York — but the Canadians accepted 18-year-olds.
He became a pilot, and crashed his Curtiss Jenny airplane into Lake Ontario.
Schuyler enrolled in Harvard, graduated in 1921, and joined United Press Association — the forerunner of UPI — as a reported. Working for various New York City dailies, he became friends with E.B. White.
In mid-career he started his own PR firm. He founded the Hickok Belt in 1950 — given to the best professional athlete of the year. Rocky Marciano was an early recipient. One of the few failures of Schuyler’s career was trying to get the trophy back, to award to the next recipient.
Schuyler also helped founded the Young Presidents Organization, for people who become CEOs of major companies before their 45th birthdays. YPO still exists today.
Still later, he worked for Editor & Publisher. His last assignment was to write a story about the news coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy. He was so involved with this project that, years later, his mind tricked him into thinking he was actually in Dallas that day. He went to his grave believing he was an eyewitness.
After retiring from E&P, he became the Westport News sports editor. He was not averse to juicing up stories — making them more dramatic — but he was a very good writer, and he taught his craft well. I know that first-hand: He was my 1st boss, when I worked for the News the summer after my junior year at Staples.
Schuyler married into the Bennett family. He lived on South Compo Road, in a home that belong to the Bennetts since the 1700s. He loved playing tennis, and one of his favorite courts was Parke Cummings’ — one of the first in Westport, and not far down the road.
His family knew him as “Pops.” At the paper, his nickname was “Scoop.”
Schuyler’s last act as a reporter was to write his own obituary. It ran, fittingly, in the Westport News.
After his death, a Staples Tuition Grants scholarship was founded in his name. For several decades, aspiring journalists have benefited from the Phil Schuyler Scholarship.
Funds have nearly run out now. One more link to a unique Westporter is in danger of fading away. Perhaps a few folks — maybe those long-ago athletes he wrote about so “creatively” — will make a donation, to keep “Scoop” Schuyler’s memory alive.
(Donations to the Philip Schuyler Fund can be sent c/o Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159. Click here to donate online.)