Lauris Jardine Phillps
August 28, 1928 - June 18, 2013
Lauris Jardine Phillips, daughter of pioneering Southern California families and a vibrant presence in many lives, passed away in her San Marino home on June 18, surrounded by family. She was 84. In her last decade she endured many health setbacks, but her strong spirit and disarming wit never faded. Lauris was born in Los Angeles on August 28, 1928, to John Earle Jardine, Jr., and Laura Snyder Jardine. She spent happy childhood years on Balboa Island, then returned with family to Pasadena where she engaged in such daring feats as diving from the Huntington Hotel (now Langham) covered walk bridge into the swimming pool far below. After high school at Dominican Convent in San Rafael, she attended Scripps College. In her teens, she competed successfully in English equestrian events on her cherished thoroughbred, Grandpa, excelling in jumping. Her interest in horses cooled, however, after her older brother, Jack, brought home an intriguing new friend, Jim Phillips(James A. Phillips, III). They eloped in 1947 and married formally in 1949.
Lauris was irrepressibly creative, enterprising and ahead of her time, with talents that found brilliant expression in the fiber arts and dress design. In the early 1960s, she launched an innovative sportswear line, Cassandra Inc., that earned such esteemed outlets as I. Magnin, Bergdorf's and Lord & Taylor. Never one for half-measures, she bore five daughters and a son in short succession. Her busy schedule expanded to include carpools, school outings and scout troop leadership.
Lauris became fascinated with Southwest Indian jewelry and arts in the early '70s and, with Jim, established Fairmont Trading Co, which soon became a leader in the field. Her keen eye resulted in a world-class collection of Southwest jewelry and wide recognition as an expert judge of provenance and quality. In 2012, Lauris and Jim received a rare Lifetime Achievement Award from the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Assn. At age 50, Lauris renewed her passion for equine pursuits, this time embracing the Western style. She won countless ribbons, competing even in strenuous "cutting" events until age 70, when injury ended her riding career. She bred "paint" quarter horses through a new venture, Fairmont Farms, and produced a number of champions, including the American Paint Horse Assn. top-ranked horse for 1994. For several years, Lauris rode with the Valley Hunt Club equestrian contingent in the Pasadena Rose Parade. She effortlessly moved among the different worlds she came to inhabit and was loved by many. Befitting her unusual name, she was in every way an original, yet she harbored an abiding respect for tradition and decorum. Her memberships included the Pasadena Junior League, the Valley Hunt Club, and ATADA.
Lauris and Jim quietly celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in November 2012, shortly before Jim's passing in December. She was also preceded in death by her daughter Melissa Phillips and brother John E. Jardine, III. She leaves behind four daughters, Cassandra Phillips (Robert Burkey) of Kamuela, HI; Holly Phillips of Los Angeles; Shelley Hauser of Etiwanda; and Poppy Mehlhaff (Allen) of Playa del Rey; and a son, James A. Phillips, IV, of San Gabriel. Other survivors include eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Donations may be made to the Pasadena Humane Society. A memorial service will be held Sat., June 29, 3 p.m., at Church of our Saviour, San Gabriel.
Published in Pasadena Star-News from Jun. 25 to Jun. 26, 2013.