Services Set April 5 For Virginia A. Phillips, 96

Category: Obituaries
Created on Friday, 02 April 2021 15:39
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Virginia Almina (Cameron) Phillips

“Our gracious Lord called home our mother, His very own faithful servant Virginia Almina Phillips (nee Cameron) on March 30, 2021,” her family said.

She was 96 and recently had been living in Sitka Long Term Care after years of living independently.

“Dear Lord, we give Virginia back to thee, who gave her to us. Yet, as thou did not lose her in giving, we have not lost her forever by her return. For what is thine is always ours, if we are thine.”

In January, Virginia celebrated 42 years of faithful service dedicated to her Sitka community and to her church. As a young woman, Virginia joined the International Order of St. Luke, dedicating her life to the Christian healing ministry. Virginia’s stated calling was to love God and act upon it and, in that vein, she was an active member of the Rosary Society and organized the Sitka Day of Prayer.

Virginia was born to Redes Homer Cameron and Lillian Grace (Kennedy) Cameron on Oct. 4, 1924, in Bellingham, Washington. She spent most of her childhood in Ketchikan and moved with her family to Sitka in 1941. Growing up, she was a member of the Presbyterian Church and of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. She learned to ride a bike in Totem Park, played baritone in the Sheldon Jackson High School band and drove an ambulance when there were only three cars in Sitka.

Virginia met Hartsell D. Phillips, a member of the West Virginia National Guard, when he was stationed in Sitka during WWII. They married and moved back to his hometown, Elkins, West Virginia, where their three children were born. After the war, Army life called Virginia to take the children and follow her husband to live in Vienna, Austria, then return to West Virginia for the next 35 years, raising her children, and working as a beautician. 

Moving back to Sitka in 1979, Virginia became a member of St. Gregory Catholic Church where her voice became well known for her many deeply committed efforts toward building a better community through service and prayer. Virginia co-founded Sitka Holiday Dinner for those without family and was a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Sealaska, Emblem Club, Republican Presidential Task Force, a Right to Life spokesperson and foster parent. She enjoyed spending her time working on crafts and for causes that she deeply believed in.

Like her grandmother Mary Starish-Stach, education was important to Virginia, and throughout her life she sought every opportunity to learn. In her 60s, from 1983 to 1985, she attended Gonzaga University. She was a Sloan Fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota. In the summer of 1984 and the following summer she was an American Indian Fellow at the University of New Mexico Law School Summer Institute of Indian Law. From 1985 to 1986, she attended the University of Minnesota Law School. 

Virginia is survived by her daughters, Sandra Noe and Susie Callen (Jan) and son Hartsell D. (Sonny) Phillips Jr. (Colleen); her five grandchildren, Michele Thomas (Clark), Jason Callen (Miller), Galahad Phillips (Sarah), Hannah Schneider and Ariel Felber; and eight great-grandchildren, Cameron Thomas, Elise Thomas, Virginia Callen, Lucy Callen, Mary Armstrong Callen, Trey Phillips, Austin Phillips and Katie Phillips. 

She was preceded in death by her brothers, Robert Cameron and Charles Cameron, and her sister Bonnie Gerow. She is survived by two siblings, Evelyn Kanen and Kenneth Cameron. 

A funeral Mass will be held 1 p.m.  Monday, April 5, 2021 at St. Gregory Catholic Church. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no reception will be held at this time.

“Lift us, strong Son of God, that we may see further; dry our eyes that we may see you more clearly; draw us closer to thyself, that we may know ourselves nearer to our beloved mother who is with thee; that where they are, and thou art, we too one day may be. Amen.”