Phillips, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, joining her
beloved husband of 54 years, Harold W. Phillips, who passed before her in
Virginia was born
in Chicago in 1931, graduated from South Shore High School and received her
teaching degree at Chicago Teachers College. She worked as a teacher for a
short time with Chicago Public Schools before attending the Art Institute of
Chicago for her education in Interior Design. Virginia then joined Marc T.
Nielsen as an interior designer in 1953. Virginia and Hal followed Marc T.
Nielsen to Suman Valley in Valparaiso in 1960. She was a gifted artist and
interior designer and owned Marc T. Nielsen Interiors for nearly 40 years.
enjoyed painting and drawing since she was a little girl. In 1987, Virginia
became a serious painter, influenced by Harriett Rex Smith at a workshop at
the Art Barn. She continued to paint there with the inspiration of German
Expressionist Konrad Juestel. Virginia’s main focus was color with various
degrees of abstraction. Her paintings have been identified as compositions
in the style of Matisse, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. In 2011, one of Virginia’s
paintings was chosen for an Easter Seal Stamp. Again, in 2013 another of her
Lily paintings received that honor. Virginia continually supported many
non-profit organizations with her art.
diagnosed with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 1998 and told her story to
the world in a documentary called “Virginia, The Courage to Create”, in
2015. Virginia was a being of color, light, compassion and love for those
whose lives she touched. She had a good word, a friendly demeanor, and an
artistic and cheerful manner in how she encountered people and the world
around her. She was a successful business woman, an artist and an
inspiration on so many levels to so many people. Her house was always filled
with people who felt her welcoming presence.
She and Hal showed
tremendous generosity, love, and gentle support to their family, friends and
neighbors. They both loved to travel, enjoyed music and always found time
for each other to ballroom dance. Music was often playing when she created
new pieces of art, each with a special touch and a fabulous depth of color.
Though her works of art are what will remain on the physical plane, perhaps
the deepest impression is in the hearts of those she touched. We now feel
her angelic presence and are thankful for the moments we were graced to
survived by her brother, Thomas Witzman at Symphony of Chesterton, her
nieces Johanna (Jeff) Schroeder of Decatur, Illinois and Jocelyn Hibshman of
Chesterton, her great-niece Elizabeth Hibshman and great-nephews Justin and
Jason Schroeder and Evan Hibshman.
The family wishes
to express its deepest gratitude and appreciation to her close friends and
neighbors, Bob and Mary Allen, for the constant care and attention they
showed to Virginia. She would not have enjoyed the same quality of life
A celebration of
Virginia’s life and art will be held on Sunday, July 9, 2017, from 2 p.m.