Heritage Mourns the Loss of Phillip N. Truluck

Heritage Mourns the Loss of Phillip N. Truluck

Oct 7, 2022 4 min read

Phil Truluck at his retirement celebration in 2015. (Credit: Willis Bretz)

WASHINGTON—Phillip N. Truluck, former Heritage Foundation executive vice president, chief operating officer, and senior adviser, died Oct. 6 in Charleston, South Carolina. Heritage Foundation Founder Ed Feulner and Board of Trustees Chairman Barb Van Andel-Gaby released the following statement on his death:

“The Heritage Foundation is the organization it is today because of Phil’s incredible work over a period measured not just in years, but in decades. He was an astute policy analyst, the prime mover behind the development of Heritage’s physical presence on Capitol Hill, and the man largely responsible for the personnel recruitment and development system that has enabled Heritage to have such tremendous intellectual influence in the conservative movement and in Washington.


“Phil first came to Washington from his native South Carolina, a freshly minted college graduate with no experience and no connections. Somehow, his mother talked her senator into taking him on as a driver and all-round go-fer. His intellectual gifts were soon recognized, and he rose swiftly, serving as a congressional staffer in both the House and the Senate before being named deputy director of the Republican Study Committee.


“It was at the RSC where Phil started to make his mark on Washington and where a professional partnership began to blossom. A few years later, he would join The Heritage Foundation and spend the next 38 years in a leadership role, making transformational changes that will continue to shape the conservative movement into the future.


“There’s a reason why our Phillip N. Truluck Center for Leadership Development bears his name—he was passionately committed to building a strong Heritage, helping the conservative movement grow, and impacting policymaking at all levels of government. He understood that winning policy victories in the short term was not enough—we must train and equip the next generation of conservatives as well.


“Phil was more than just a strategic leader and visionary policy expert. He approached the job with kindness and compassion, serving as a role model and mentor who was always willing to lend a hand to those in need. He pushed his colleagues to strive for their best and realize their full potential. He did so with the goal of building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.


“Without his leadership and vision, Heritage would not be the leading conservative policy organization it is today. Future generations of conservative leaders, whether working at Heritage or elsewhere in our movement, will have been influenced by his dedication to this great country, and the principles that truly make us unique in the pantheon of human history.


“On behalf of the entire Heritage family, we pray for his wife Ann, his children and their spouses Mason (and Hunter), Sutton (and Ashley), and Walker (and Karen), and grandchildren Halliday and Myers.”

Feulner, who worked alongside Truluck for decades, first on Capitol Hill and then at Heritage, added:

“Phil Truluck and I were colleagues together in the conservative movement for more than 50 years, first at the Republican Study Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and then for 38 years at The Heritage Foundation. We had a candid, trusting relationship.


“As the president of Heritage, I was often on the road telling our story for much of my time. I always knew I could rely on my senior colleague Phil, and that I would never have to second-guess any of his decisions.


“Phil and I were colleagues in the Philadelphia Society, the Mont Pelerin Society, and other conservative organizations. Our families formed a strong friendship, and we shared our aspirations and dreams with each other. He was my close friend, colleague, and adviser, and will greatly miss his wise counsel on which I could always rely, especially in the most challenging circumstances.


“My wife Linda joins me in sending Ann and the family our love at this sad time, even as we come together to celebrate the extraordinary individual who was Phil Truluck."


In 1977, Truluck, a longtime associate of former Heritage President Ed Feulner at the Republican Study Committee, became Heritage’s director of research. In the years that followed, Truluck handled day-to-day operations, serving as “Mr. Inside” to Feulner’s “Mr. Outside.” He was charged with building a new kind of research organization that did not then exist in Washington. His hard work soon bore fruit, as Heritage’s “Mandate for Leadership” would guide the incoming Reagan administration in 1981 on policy achievements across the federal government.

Truluck was also instrumental in locating and purchasing Heritage’s Massachusetts Avenue headquarters building as well as expanding Heritage’s physical footprint on both sides of Capitol Hill through multiple acquisition and renovation projects. He did so to maximize Heritage’s location and capabilities as a strategic competitive advantage to influence public policy over his 38-year career.

Truluck became a member of the Heritage Board of Trustees in 2001, serving on the board until 2015, when he retired from Heritage. He served as chairman of Heritage’s Society of Emeritus Trustees until his death.

Before joining Heritage in 1977, Truluck served on various congressional staffs, and as deputy director of the Republican Study Committee. He was a founding director and vice chairman of the board of directors of the Center for International Private Enterprise, an affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy. During 1982 and 1983, he served on the executive committee of the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, also known as the Grace Commission. He also served on the White House Fellows Selection Committee in the Reagan administration. President Reagan also appointed him to the Administrative Conference of the United States in 1987.

He supported the Capitol Hill neighborhood where Heritage is located, serving as chairman of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District and a tireless champion of that organization’s Ready, Willing, and Working program. And he made Heritage facilities available to host a variety of community meetings.

Truluck was respected across the country. Francis Marion University, located in Truluck’s native Florence County, S.C., endowed the Phillip N. Truluck Chair in Public Policy in his honor to promote conservative views and reflect Heritage’s principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

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