Virginia Louise Phillips
September 7, 1940 – March 21, 2021
Virginia Louise Phillips, known to some as Ginny, passed away peacefully at home in her sleep surrounded by family early Sunday morning, March 21, 2021.
She is survived by her husband Gary, a daughter Tracy Hiesberger and her husband Matthew of Olathe, KS, and a son Brian Phillips and his wife Cindy of La Crescenta, CA. A daughter, Julie Phillips, died in an accident in 2013. She has four grandchildren, Evan Hiesberger 23, Nathan Hiesberger 21, Travis Phillips 13, and Kaylee Phillips 11. Virginia lived most of her adult life in a close-knit neighborhood in Springfield, Virginia where she and Gary raised their children. She was a caring wife, mother and friend and loved by all. A niece said she used Virginia as a model in raising her own children. A neighbor said that she was the glue that held the neighborhood together.
She was born Virginia Louise Wright in Kansas City, Missouri in September 1940, where she lived in the Waldo area. At about age 12 she moved with her family to Pleasant Hill, Missouri. At about age 16 they moved to the Hickman Mills area of Kansas City, MO where she graduated from Ruskin H.S. in 1958. Of note during this period was a large tornado which destroyed their high school building in May 1957 and leveled a several block wide path in the surrounding neighborhood. Virginia attended her senior year in what had been an elementary school.
In 1962, Virginia earned a B.S. in teaching from the Central Missouri State College (now the University of Central Missouri) in Warrensburg, MO. She was a member of Tri-Sigma sorority. After graduation she worked as an elementary school teacher in Raytown, Missouri.
Although Virginia and her husband to be Gary Phillips both attended Ruskin H.S. together, they really got to know each other during the summer of 1958 in a young people’s social group at the Ruskin Presbyterian Church. They had a long-distance relationship while she attended Central Missouri and he studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. Because long-distance telephone calls were so expensive, they wrote each other weekly letters, all of which Virginia kept. They became engaged over the Christmas holidays in 1962 and were married in Kansas City, MO July 20, 1963. They had a brief 3-day honeymoon driving back to their first apartment in Adelphi, MD with a longer honeymoon later at Ocean City, MD. Virginia taught elementary school in Maryland while Gary earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1967.
There followed stays of 2-3 years each in Seattle, WA, Austin, TX and Park Ridge, NJ due to Gary’s postdoctoral employment. During this time Virginia taught elementary school. Their daughters Tracy and Julie were born in Seattle, WA and their son Brian was born in Westwood NJ.
In 1973 Gary found permanent employment as a physics researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. They made their home in Springfield, VA where they lived 33 years until 2006. At first teaching jobs were hard to find and having three small children Virginia decided to substitute teach. Meanwhile she took several accounting courses to supplement a college minor and found employment first with a mall retailer and then with government contractors. Outdoor pursuits during this period included skiing, hiking, and camping in the mountains or at the beaches. Later they were able to afford a weekly summer beach rental in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Several members of Virginia’s family joined her at various beach houses including sister Judy Collier, sister in-law, Sue-Ellen Wright (now Palmer) and many of her nieces and nephews. Gary’s work and scientific conferences often took him overseas and Virginia occasionally joined him afterwards for trips to places such as Gibraltar, southern Spain, London, West Berlin, and Paris.
Virginia retired in 2006 when they moved into a new home in the Four Seasons subdivision of Dumfries, VA, an “active adult” community, where both enjoyed pursuits developed earlier such as bridge, swimming, book club and an explorer’s group for hiking and kayaking. They enjoyed organized trips to DC plays, Nationals baseball games and a land/sea cruise in Alaska.
Gary had retired from NRL in 2001 and worked half time until 2016 as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC doing research and teaching. After the tragedy of their daughter Julie’s death in 2013 they adopted her beloved black and white cat Clara.
They continued their interests in traveling including river cruises in Europe, a Southern African safari with Tracy’s family, a Mexican resort on the Maya Riviera with Brian’s family, a Disney cruise with Brian’s family and a tour of Incan Peru including Machu Picchu with their grandsons Evan and Nathan. In June 2016 they moved into a new home in the Chapel Hill subdivision of Overland Park, KS to be closer to Tracy’s family, Virginia’s sister Judy, and her many other relatives in the area. Virginia had planned a backyard celebration of 80’s birthdays for herself, Gary and Sue-Ellen and was disappointed when Covid-19 intervened, and she had to cancel. The family is planning a memorial celebration for Virginia this summer instead.
A private family memorial will be held on April 10 at Mount Moriah Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in her name to ServiceSource at http://www.servicesource.org/giving.
Private Services - Livestreamed
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Virginia Louise Phillips
April 10, 2021
I was lucky enough to meet “Virginia” on the first day we could move into our college dorm, Aug. 1958! We became fast friends even though I was from across the state in Webster Groves. After college we both taught school in Raytown and rented an apartment together with our friend Brenda. The rest is a 60 + year friendship that never diminished.
In the early 60’s, Virginia and Gary urged my husband and me to move to the D.C./Maryland area. She helped us find an apartment, teaching positions, and was a great help when our first child was born. What a wonderful friend – she was the best, simply incredible, I loved her dearly and will miss her forever.
As the years passed we stayed in touch to continue our special relationship. We camped together (and what a story that was, one particular dark stormy night with their two darling little girls!!), We celebrated some fun holidays when they returned to Kansas City to visit family, and then I stayed with them in Virginia when I attended a conference in more recent years. A surprise to me was when they did actually move back to the K.C. area.
In retrospect, having stayed with them in their new home has helped to create priceless memories that I will continue to treasure forever.
I feel so grateful for our long and enduring friendship and the many kindnesses she bestowed on me through those wonderful years. She was the best friend anyone could ever have and words can’t express how much I will miss her. I love you Virginia, and on earth we will miss you, but Heaven has gained a true Angel.
Mark & Cristin Donovan
April 5, 2021
We were neighbors for 30 years. Starting with the kids in Kindergarten and just about through College, Ginny was usually the driving force behind getting all us neighbors together for an outdoor picnic or an inside holiday meal. There are so many treasured memories I do not know where to begin. You take a piece of our heart with you! Mark & Cris
March 29, 2021
Mom - thanks for giving us all a strong foundation in life. The memories that have been pouring in lately are so touching. I hope you are enjoying them as we all recall the fabulous life you had with all of us. I now realize how many traits I have because of you.
Love you - Tracy