Feature – Phil Lane

In this life, we are sometimes afforded the rare occasion to cross paths with a genuinely good person. Even less frequently, we are given the opportunity to sit down and talk with one, eager for the chance to take a peek inside his or her universe and understand what makes them tick. Because people of excellence naturally radiate good energy, they are the kind of people you want to be around, the kind you unexplainably gravitate towards and enjoy the company of. Phil Lane is such a person.

It may be his personal philosophies, professional leadership style or dedication to family that sets Phil apart from the rest. Perhaps it’s his unbridled passion for creating beautiful art and collecting artifacts. Or maybe, just maybe, he is the personification of what sadly seems to be a dying breed –the quintessential Southern gentleman. All the same, Phil is a man of many accomplishments and noteworthy successes, but more than anything, he’s the kind of guy you’d like to have over for dinner and a glass of wine.

Even though Phil has only been in Texas a short while, the long-time South Carolina resident says he already feels right at home. Phil, wife Beth and their 15-year-old son Christopher made the trek from the Palmetto State at the beginning of August when Phil was brought on board as the new general manager and vice president of KSAT-12 in San Antonio. The Lanes moved into their Cordillera home in October and have been busy getting accustomed to all the things that come with embracing a new life.

Phil jokes that while he and Beth are still unpacking boxes, he has already been officially initiated as Texas Hill Country resident. “I hit my first deer a couple of weeks ago. From what I am told, this is a common occurrence around here!”

According to Phil, the Hill Country is not very different than the area where the Lanes are from. “I see the same values, the same caring people and the same cultural and physical landscapes,” Phil said. “This is still the South and while my accent might be a little different, I’m from the South and I enjoy Southern living.”

When asked how they landed in Cordillera, Beth explained, “We got to San Antonio and when I went house hunting, I just kept driving west on I-10. This area reminded me so much of the Greenville-Spartanburg area in South Carolina, which is where we’re from, I knew we had found our new home. We are the second owners of this house, but it is perfect for us. We had a pool put in and did some landscaping and we just love it.”

Phil agreed, “We just said, let’s get out of the suburbs and do something different for a change. The Texas Hill Country reminds us so much of the foothills in South Carolina. I like the idea that we are close to a metropolitan city, but far enough away to enjoy life in the country. I don’t mind the commute into San Antonio when I have this to come home to.”

In addition to the many happy years the Lanes spent in South Carolina, Phil’s job has taken them all over the southern part of the United States in years past –Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and all places in between. Despite his love of travel, however, Phil says he has found the place where he and Beth will ultimately settle. “I definitely plan to retire here,” he said.

Since his meager beginnings more than 20 years ago as a sales associate with ABC, Phil has managed to make quite a name for himself. After more than 18 years with the same company, Phil decided to switch companies and is now what many call KSAT-12’s new “top dog,” replacing longtime KSAT-12 General Manager Jim Joslyn. Phil says he is particularly fond of KSAT-12 because they are a well-established TV station that dominates the market with their news coverage.

As the new GM, Phil currently oversees more than 145 staff members, a position he says he enjoys tremendously. “I just enjoy people. I like to be around them, talk to them and find out what they are all about. I believe a work environment should have a fun and enjoyable atmosphere, one that encourages people to be their best simply because they love their job. I am a firm believer that happy people are productive people.”

Even though he is a motivated career man, it’s not work that drives Phil; it’s family. “Family is more important than everything else,” he said. “Work doesn’t come first –family does. I make sure and tell that to my team at KSAT. When things are not okay at home, it’s human nature to bring that junk to work. The home is supposed to be a place of sanctuary and when it isn’t, it can negatively affect every other area of life. If something is wrong on the home front, I encourage people to take time off to get everything back in balance.”

Phil and Beth, an interior designer, have been married more than twenty-one years, adopting Christopher after seven years of wedded bliss. “Our son spent the first part of his life in a children’s shelter,” Phil said of Christopher, who became part of the Lane family around the age of two. “The process of adopting Christopher opened our eyes to the plight of so many children in the U.S. and we have never been the same since. There are so many kids out there trapped in wonderful and caring children’s shelters, but yet have never lived in a home.”

Although Phil hasn’t yet had the chance to pursue his favorite philanthropies since arriving in the Hill Country, it’s definitely on his agenda when things settle down a bit. Phil takes pleasure by engaging in charity work and is enthusiastic about getting out in the community to see where he can make a difference. In addition to being of service to the Chamber of Commerce and United Way, Phil delights in being of service at children’s homes.

“Beth and I are doing what we can to make sure Christopher grows up to be happy and have a good life. We want him to know he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to,” Phil said. “To have the chance to make a difference in the life of a kid, well –it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s tough to think about how many kids grow up without a family. It’s just awful”

Christopher is currently attending Winston School in San Antonio, a private school that provides personalized, college preparatory education for students who have high learning potential. “I like my school,” said Chris, a junior varsity basketball player. “So far all the kids have been really nice and friendly to me.”

Phil and Christopher seem to have a very special father-son bond, the kind of closeness every guy wants from his dad. The two love fly-fishing together and hitting the occasional round of golf.

“We’re more into fly-fishing than anything else. It gives us the chance to be guys and just talk about stuff. That’s pretty evident when you take a look around our house,” Phil joked, speaking of the dazzling artwork that decks the halls of the Lane house, chronicling his fishing trips with Christopher.

Because Beth is a fabulous interior designer, her unique flair has really turned their house into something spectacular. Think bold animal prints and furniture of all textures with wildly shaped, and incredibly comfortable, high back chairs to sit in. To say the least, their great room is a valiant expression of positive energy with vivid color splashed all over the walls as proof positive a family of creatives lives there.

The first thing anyone would notice upon entering the Lanes’ dream home is the striking pictorials that don the walls –sunflowers, fish, landscapes, fish. Explaining the significance of the paintings, Phil explains, “We fish on a catch and release program so I started making Christopher paintings of the fish we would catch. We would take a picture before we let it go and then I would come home and paint it. I really enjoy painting as a hobby. It is a true stress release after a hectic day.”

Phil’s love of acrylic and pastel paint is evident in every brushstroke of his work. A proud Furman University graduate, Phil holds a Bachelor’s in History with a Minor in Fine Arts. It was in college, macho football player though he was, where he discovered his seemingly innate artistic abilities. “After taking art classes to bring up my grades, I found that I was good at making art and I really enjoyed it. I even received an art scholarship.”

Phil jokes that there must be some kind of artists’ gene passed down.“Creativity really runs in my family so it’s no surprise I would love painting.” Phil would one day like to put his work in a gallery. “Over the years, I have auctioned pieces at Trout Unlimited charity events. It’s cool to think my work is hanging in someone’s living room.”

Another of Phil’s hobbies is collecting ancient artifacts. He proudly displays Native American pieces in a case in the front of the house. Arrowheads and other crudely manmade tools are among the items he has found. Phil is especially proud of one artifact in particular –a soapstone bowl that probably dates back more than 3,000 years, one that early Americans used to boil water in.

Phil says he, Beth and Christopher feel blessed to be a part of the Cordillera family living in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. “In the months to come, we look forward to meeting our neighbors and venturing into town more. Beth and I plan to get involved in the Episcopal church in Boerne and other nonprofits in the area.”

Ever the optimist, Phil is looking expectantly to the New Year. “I think 2012 is going to be a great year for us all.”

Besides kayaking in the summer and getting away to their second home – an 1861 log cabin in Tryon, North Carolina –Phil says the family is just looking forward to taking advantage of all the fine services Cordillera has to offer and settling into their new lives in the Lone Star State.

Phil signs off by saying, “You only get one life. Let’s make it a fun adventure; experience it and enjoy it!”

Bethany Heinesh

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