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Phil Krone: Witty Provocateur of Clubland

John Powers 31 August 2010 No Comment

Phil called or emailed me around twice a day for the last 2 years or so.  When something prevented him from calling, I tended to breathe a bit easier, as Phil Krone was a real challenge in a conversation, but still would look at my phone when it rang late at night, to see if Krone was calling from Syria or London or Denmark or even the West Side with some jolly tale.   I will share three stories about Phil Krone, that start to describe his personality.  He had a lot of it, so many more stories could follow.

I first met Phil Krone at Tom Roeser’s birthday party, held at the Cliff Dwellers Club, (slightly shifted) home-away-from-home of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Phil Krone.  I mentioned to Phil that I was interested in Chicago Church Architecture History.  Phil told me of his love of organ music performed in the great gothic churches of Chicago.  I told Phil about an organ player who had been breaking in to West Side Churches to perform surreptitiously during closed periods.  Phil responded “Oh, (name withheld) is one of my good friends.  I encourage him to do that to keep people talking about church organ music….was he any good?”.

Phil Krone was a clubman, and since neither he nor I had a downtown office, we would meet at one or another club for lunch or a drink if the time was right.  Phil and I put a lot of effort in getting Phil’s press credentials for the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver.  Phil called immediately after the convention telling me that he had to see me in person about something very important.  My son was 5 months old at the time, and we did not leave him with babysitters, so I told Phil I could not make it.  He said, just “30 minutes at the train station, then you can turn around and go home”.

I trained it to the Loop, and was ahead of Phil by 5 minutes at the Tower Club (near the Station).   Phil entered dressed in American Indian garb, with a buckskin shirt and turquoise bolo tie.   I told Phil I wasn’t sure he would meet dress code, when he explained “John, this is a formal club, but I have been at a Native American Sweat lodge.  This is formal dress at the Sweat Lodge”.  I asked what he wanted to meet about, Phil said “I wanted to show you this outfit I bought in Denver”, and thanked me for sending him there.  I was provoked, but got over it,  just by considering Phil’s unknowable (ir)reverance to Clubland and/or the American Indian dress code.

My last encounter with Phil Krone started when I had lunch at the Union League Club on a fine June day with a good government type, where we sat at the next table to Ald. Ed Burke, and exchanged some pleasant conversation with Ald. Burke, a good friend of Phil Krone.  The next day, I again had lunch with another good government type, but this time at the University Club.  We were seated in the next table to Phil and a member of the Daley family.  Phil introduced me to Mr. Daley, as “my choice for the next mayor of Chicago, John Powers”, which brought an appropriate puzzled look from Mr. Daley.

Phil and I corresponded the next day (pretty much verbatim)

Phil Krone to me

It was a nice surprise running into you today at the University Club.

See how smart Palin is, keeping her mouth pretty much shut during this oil spill stuff.

It is very frustrating for me to see the future so clearly while others refuse to.

Hope to see you after I get back June 29.


Me to Phil

Thanks Phil,
I had a pleasant week, having lunch at the Union League Club on
Wednesday with (name withheld), with
Ed Burke at the next table over.
Then the University Club with (another name withheld) with you and Mike Daley at the next table over.
I think you guys were keeping tabs on me :-)
Phil Krone to me
Or vice versa.
May you rest in peace, Phil.
John Powers is the President of the Chicago Daily Observer
image Bird Girl Statue at the Cliff Dwellers Club

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