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Valerie Louise Phillips

1956 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Valerie Louise Phillips Obituary
Valerie Louise Phillips, a longtime and well-known Austin and Washington, D.C., figure, was a Fort Worth native from one of its most historic, accomplished and creative families. She died Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, after a bold and courageous three-year battle with inflammatory breast cancer. She was 57 years old. Memorial service: 3 p.m. Monday at St. John's United Methodist Church, 2140 Allandale Road, Austin. Interment: in Fort Worth will be announced. Valerie was born Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1956, one of four daughters of prominent attorney Edwin T. Phillips Jr., former head of the Tarrant County Crime Commission, and Ann Simpson Phillips. Valerie graduated from Arlington Heights High and from University of Texas in 1978. She also received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University in 1983. Valerie had a distinguished political and media career in Washington, including as adviser to Vice President Al Gore in his presidential run in 1988, and as a TV reporter and associate political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Covering the State Department as on on-air reporter, she worked alongside fellow Fort Worthian Bob Schieffer. Valerie returned to Texas in 1996 with longtime partner Bob Mann, a former Star-Telegram reporter and editor who was a senior member of the White House staff and later press Secretary to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Valerie, too, worked with the Kennedys, Ambassador Pamela Harriman and other Democrats before returning to Texas as a fundraiser in statewide political campaigns and for non-profit groups, including the Texas Civil Rights Project and KUT-Radio, the NPR affiliate at UT. For the past five years, she had been major gifts officer for KUT. She was instrumental in acquiring funding for a "musicians' room" named for high school friend and college roommate Robin Shivers at KUT's new studios. Valerie was a friend of Robin and Bud Shivers for 40 years. Members of Valerie's extended family also played on the national stage. Uncle David Atlee Phillips was a renowned CIA operative and writer, serving as head of the Western Hemisphere division; uncle Jim Phillips, another writer, authored the best-selling novel "The Inheritors," and also wrote the screenplay for the Robert Mitchum classic, "Thunder Road"; and cousin Shawn Phillips is a recording and concert icon in the music world, still performing around the world at age 70. During her illness, Val never complained and continued to offer counsel and friendship to dozens. Her off-beat sense of humor never faltered as visitors, from politicians to former interns, were ushered to her hospice bedside for countless hours by sisters Beth and Mary and cousin Mary Long and Donna. The family wishes to thank the hospice caregivers who were with Valerie at her home, most especially Evie and Gretchen, as well as the staff of Austin Hospice Christopher House, especially Lorraine and Trish, for their caring and understanding during Valerie's 14-day stay. She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Diane Heather Phillips; and loving godmother, Wanda Stark, a major influence in Val's life. Mary Louise Phillips Elementary was named after Valerie's grandmother. Survivors: Val's companion for three decades, Bob Mann of Austin and his extended family; sisters, Beth Phillips Engelhardt and husband, Fred, and Mary Phillips-Kalvitz and husband, Ray; nephew, Scott Reynolds; aunts and uncles, Mrs. J. Olcott Phillips, all of Fort Worth, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Simpson of Lawrenceville, Ga.; cousin, Mary Long Phillips; partner Donna Thomas of Austin, and many other cousins, friends and loved ones who sent prayers and helped in other ways during Val's battle.
Published in Star-Telegram on Jan. 12, 2014
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