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Phil Whitfield, beloved Dallas Cowboys security guard turned art ambassador, dies at 62

A man sits facing slightly to the right of the image, talking to someone unseen.
Courtesy
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City of Arlington on YouTube
Dallas Cowboys art ambassador Phil Whitfield began working with the team in 1993. He started out as a security guard before being appointed art ambassador in 2009, supervising the installation of the Cowboys Stadium art collection.

Phil Whitfield, a 30-year former Dallas Cowboys security guard who later became art ambassador for AT&T Stadium, died Wednesday at 62.

Whitfield, whose 63rd birthday would have been Saturday, began working security for the Cowboys in 1993 at Texas Stadium. In 2009, he became the team’s art ambassador, overseeing an installation of the Cowboys Art Collection at AT&T Stadium that included 19 pieces of contemporary art.

The team shared a statement from Gene Jones, wife of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, following Whitfield’s death.

“Few people have generated such widespread goodwill and respect like Phil did over the years,” the statement reads. “He was an amazing ambassador for the Cowboys and a great friend and docent for our art program and the purpose of connecting with children and inspiring them to enjoy art. We will miss him greatly.”

Whitfield told KERA in a 2011 interview he knew little about art before coming into the role. But after working with artists on the Cowboys collection, he became the stadium’s "unofficial mayor," enjoying visitors’ appreciation of the art.

“I notice them noticing it,” he said at the time. “And whether people admit to saying they like art or not, we’ve all got a little art in us … Some people when they find out that it’s art – and if you didn’t say it was art – they just like it.”

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at tosibamowo@kera.org. You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.