PHILLIPS, Valerie Louise|
Valerie Louise Phillips, Major Gifts Officer for KUT and KUTX Radio and a popular personality in philanthropic and political circles, died January 7 after a bold three-year battle with breast cancer.
As Leadership Circle Manager for KUT, Valerie worked with Austin's best and brightest, always with joy, efficiency and enthusiasm.
Valerie was a 1978 graduate of UT and held an MA in telecommunications from Bowling Green State University where, she said, she was "privileged" to study under Dr. Denise Trauth, now President of Texas State University.
Before returning to Texas in 1996, Valerie, 57, spent two decades in Washington as a Capitol Hill staffer, political adviser and potent fundraiser. In l988, she was Deputy Finance Director for Al Gore's Presidential Campaign, then formed her own firm, working with Ambassador Pamela Harriman, U.S. senators, the Kennedy family and congressional candidates.
Before that, she covered the State Department for a Virginia TV station, working alongside fellow Fort Worthian Bob Schieffer of CBS.
Valerie began her DC career with Congressman Marvin Leath in 1978, then joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as Associate Political Director before becoming Membership Director for the Highway Users Federation.
She also assumed a unique role, "adopted mother," to partner Bob Mann's teenage daughter, now Liz Stewart, wife of GSD&M CEO Duff Stewart. The Stewart children, Adam, Noah and Grace, though not formally related to Valerie, competed to sit next to Valerie at family gatherings. Valerie and Liz often partnered in Austin philanthropic endeavors.
Valerie, from a storied Fort Worth family of lawyers, writers and musicians, was a writer, arts and literature lover, and had a deadly wit.
Uncle Jim Phillips was a novelist and author of the screenplay for the Robert Mitchum classic, "Thunder Road" Uncle David Atlee Phillips was chief of covert operations for the CIA in Latin America in the 1960s and a successful novelist; a cousin is singer-songwriter icon Shawn Phillips from the 60s and 70s, who, at 70, still performs concerts around the globe.
Father Edwin Phillips was a widely respected attorney in Fort Worth and a protege of Lyndon Johnson. He and Val's mother, Ann Simpson Phillips, as well as sister Diane, preceded Valerie in death.
As a UT undergrad, Valerie roomed with the late Robin Shivers, and was close to Robin and her husband Bud for four decades. Valerie was instrumental in a musicians' room being named for Robin at KUT.
Valerie began college at Sweetbriar University before transferring to UT, where she was a Tri Delt. After graduation she joined the political polling firm, George Shipley & Associates.
Valerie and partner Bob Mann moved to DC in 1978. Mann joined the White House staff and later the FCC, and Valerie joined Congressman Leath.
Valerie was a highly visible figure as Associate Director of the Political Endorsement Committee of the U.S. Chamber, where she also did media training for Fortune 500 executives. She and Bob, who had become press secretary to U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, were frequent figures at White House events and guests at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis.
She formed Valerie Phillips & Associates Consulting in 1987, and then was named Deputy Finance Director for presidential candidate Al Gore, traveling the nation with Gore for a year.
Returning to Texas in the 1990s, Valerie revisited political fundraising, for John Sharp in a lieutenant governor race and Richard Raymond's land commissioner race. She then joined Central Texas Clean Cities, coordinating alternative energy programs, before joining Texas Civil Rights Project, and then KUT.
Valerie's five years at KUT, were, she said, "the most exciting and satisfying years of my professional life."
In addition to Bob Mann and the Stewart family, survivors include sisters Beth Phillips Engelhardt and Mary Phillips-Kalvitz of Fort Worth; cousin Mary Phillips and partner Donna Thomas of Austin; and Bob's daughter, Amy Mann of Longmont, CO, and family pooch, Boots. The family is grateful for friends who visited and supported Valerie. Her "adopted sister," pal Luniece Obst, husband Michael Schless, and great neighbor Kevin Moomaw, for many months practically "took up residence" at the North Austin home of Valerie and Bob.
The family is grateful for the gentle care of pastor Paul Escamilla and Hospice Austin. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Austin or KUT at KUT Public Radio, P.O. Box 7600, Austin, Texas 78713, or KUT.org.
A celebration of Valerie's life will be held, the Rev. Dr. Paul Escamilla officiating, at 3 p.m. Monday, January13 at Saint John's United Methodist Church, 2140 Allandale Road in Austin.
Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, 2014