That attachment to San Angelo and ASU would come full circle, just as the number of people he influenced became innumerable.
After graduating from ASU in 1974, Neighbors worked for the American Cancer Society in Lufkin, but soon moved into the chamber of commerce work that became his career. In 2006, he was hired as president of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, calling it the perfect opportunity to move back home.
But Neighbors didn’t just return. He fervently went “all in” for his job, the people and the community. He deeply believed leadership is ser vice, and his demeanor and gift for networking brought him well-deserved accolades.
Many knew his professional side, but only a few knew the extent of his contributions behind the scenes, where he distinguished himself as an ASU alumnus.
He was dedicated to ASU students, whether teaching them in Sunday school classes, hosting them in his home each Wednesday, challenging them on the racquetball court, or accompanying them on mission trips.
He also volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and attended his grandchildren’s activities in addition to countless community events.
No doubt, many thought there was plenty of time to nominate Neighbors for Distinguished Alumnus. Time stood still when he became gravely ill on Sunday, Feb. 3, and passed away the following Wednesday. The community was stunned and heartbroken.
This year, the Alumni Association honors Neighbors; his wife, Susan; son and daughter, Jeff Neighbors and Janet Abernathy; their families; and Phil’s extended family all over the world. He is forever part of the Ram Family.