I didn't learn until last night that Jim Phelps had died. I have written about Phelps and his ilk before but it may bear repeating: He was one of the old-school good guys, kind and generous, fair but tough and indefatigable. He was the best kind of activist, always fighting the good fight, never making enemies he didn't need to make.
My last conversation with him was a couple of weeks ago, and he said then that his health hadn't been good. But that wasn't why he called. He just wanted to say that if I was going to keep running Brad Molnar's columns, I should try to run some counter arguments, too.
That was classic Phelps: more concerned about seeing that all points of view have a chance to get heard than about seeing that his point of view prevailed.
Phelps also had one of the great end-of-life lines ever. I believe I have quoted it here before, too, but it also is worth repeating: "I feel like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter," he told me last summer. "I don't know how long it will last, but I'm just enjoying every pitch."