Kathy Hillis Wood passed away on March 12, 2018 surrounded by her family in her home in Orinda, California from a six month battle with lung cancer. Kathy touched many lives in her 74 years and will be missed and remembered by all.
Kathy was the eldest child of Fair and Charles “Chuck” Phipps of The Dalles, Oregon. Born on March 4, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois, she grew up in The Dalles, was a member of the high school National Honor Society and Homecoming Queen. She spent summers filled always with friends and family at her family’s summer cottage on the beach in Neskowin, Oregon.
She married Allen Michael “Mike” Hillis in 1966, and lived in Bend, Oregon, where they reared their two children, Heidi and Greg. She married J. Roger Wood in 2005 and became step mother to Roger’s children Heather, Whitney and Derrick. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1966 with a BA in French and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority where she made life-long friendships.
During her years in Bend, Kathy became a gourmet cook, community volunteer, and a devoted mother, and traveled frequently with her family. The friendships she and her children developed in Bend remained strong and lasting after moving from Bend to Los Angeles and Salt Lake City in 1984.
As a divorcee in 1988 with an empty nest, and with no commercial work experience, Kathy was faced with looking for a meaningful job at age 44. After jobs with a magazine and a consulting firm, she was hired by First Security Bank. As Vice President, she directed charitable giving and community relations for the bank, served on the boards of numerous city organizations and was involved in the organization that succeeded in bringing the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City. After First Security was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank, Kathy led the creation of Women’s Financial Services to develop products tailored specifically for women. Her favorite line, quoted many times as she watched women transform, was “A man is not a financial plan.” She wanted deeply to see women succeed on their own merits and stressed how critical education and fair play in the workplace were for women.
Kathy met the love of her life, Roger Wood, 1997. After an eight-year commuter courtship, which racked up an outrageous number of frequent flier miles between Kathy’s home in Salt Lake and Roger’s home in Orinda, California, they were married in 2005. After retiring and moving to Orinda, Kathy assumed perhaps her favorite role: that of grandmother to her seven grandchildren from her two children and Roger’s three children. She got back to the kitchen, and will be forever remembered for her fantastic marionberry pies, homemade granola, and bouillabaisse. Whether Kathy was going to the farmer’s market or to a glamorous evening party, she always looked absolutely beautiful. With a strong sense of self, unwavering confidence and a gracious caring, she nurtured many friendships in Oregon, Utah and California.
Kathy is survived by her husband Roger, her sister Gayle Meredith (Ralph), her two children, Heidi Hillis-Koerber (Damien), Greg Hillis, and three step-children, Heather Wall (Tyler), Whitney Wood and Derrick Wood (Kirsten). And her much-loved grandchildren: Max, Sam, Parker, Ashley, Luke, Connor, and Sadie.
Our family wishes to thank our dear friends who have provided food, love and support. A Celebration of Life will be held in Orinda, California March 31st, at 2 p.m. at the Orinda Country Club, Orinda, CA.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice or to ProPublica, The Environmental Defense Fund, or your local PBS or NPR station.