- Published on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:00
- Written by Mary Beth Hislop - Special to the Town Crier
Mary Frances Phillips, former Los Altos resident and retired food editor for the San Jose Mercury News, died at her home in Aptos March 5 after a four-year battle with cancer. She was 75.
Mrs. Phillips was born Nov. 14, 1931, and raised in Phoenix, the first daughter of Frances and Granville Fuqua.
Her 40-year journalism career started at the Arizona Republic, a newspaper based in Phoenix, where she wrote feature stories and articles about food and fashion.
She joined the Mercury News in 1955 as a society reporter. She met William Phillips at the paper and married him in 1958.
"I was a copy boy and she was a society girl," Bill said of Mary.
In 1969, she was promoted to food editor and the family moved to Los Altos.
She collected numerous awards for writing and design, and she was a five-time first-place winner of the Vesta Award for producing the best food section in the country.
Mrs. Phillips was food editor for nearly 20 years before retiring in 1988. She and Bill subsequently moved to Aptos.
"She loved the fresh air and the warm, sandy beach," he said.
Mrs. Phillips enjoyed freelance writing and traveled to Italy, Sicily and France.
Her son, Steve Phillips, said she was partial to Italy, frequently visiting Tuscany, Florence and the Cinque Terre.
"Italian food was probably her specialty," Steve said.
Bill remembered one of her favorite creations, "Steve's Lasagna," created for her son, who now cooks it for his own family.
Mrs. Phillips loved to sample varied cuisines in her travels, visited many historic sites and developed lifelong friendships, including the couple's close relationship with chef Jacques Pepin.
Though she admired several world-renowned chefs, her husband said her favorite was local chef Robert Morris, former owner of Blacks Beach Café in Santa Cruz.
Mrs. Phillips and Steve were featured in a 2003 Town Crier article in which Steve received recognition for participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training on behalf of his mother.
Mrs. Phillips is survived by her husband of 49 years, Bill; son Steve Phillips and his wife, Phyllis, of Los Altos; daughter Susan Norris and her husband, Garrett, of Fresno; three sisters, Granice Kennedy of Sacramento, Dorothy Moreira and Lynda Leon, both of Phoenix; one brother, Walter Ligocki, of Phoenix; and four grandchildren, Stephanie and Spencer Phillips of Los Altos and Nicola Vojvoda and Noelle Norris of Fresno.
A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at Santa Cruz Memorial Oakwood Chapel, 3301 Paul Sweet Road, Santa Cruz.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are preferred.