Obituary: Patricia Whiteside Phillips

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March 15, 1934 – January 12, 2023 

She loved playing at life.

Ebullient artist, activist and teacher Patricia Whiteside Phillips passed away Thursday, January 12, 2023. Her colorful life culminated in participating in more than 50 art exhibits across the country, four decades showing at the Sawdust Festival, Art-A-Fair, and Festival of Arts, and inspiring thousands of kids of all ages to make art.

Pat was born in Chicago to Frank Bloom and Mildred V. Northmore Bloom on March 15, 1934. She spent her elementary years in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as her father was a prominent Supreme Court trial lawyer. President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited him to join the recently established National Labor Relations Board as the chief trial examiner. Pat’s mother was a silent movie actress and ceramic artist who encouraged her daughter’s dramatic and artistic development. After the death of Pat’s father in 1948, her mother, Mildred, moved with Pat and her sister Susan to California to be closer to her family. Pat’s socialite Aunt took her under her wing, groomed her for high society entertaining and sent her to finishing and modeling school during her high school years. Pat wanted to be like her mother, an actress in movies and an artist.

She studied art at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., where she met the father of her two daughters, Davis Gilbert Whiteside. They married at St. Mary’s Church in Laguna Beach in 1957. She obtained her teaching certificate from UC Berkeley before marriage and received a secondary teaching credential at UCI after her divorce.

Pat arrived in Laguna Beach in 1966, a fresh divorcee raising her two daughters as a single mom. When her daughters were grown, she married her second husband, Raoul D. Phillips, in 1987, again at St. Mary’s Church. He was the true love of her life.

In 1999, her grandson Cullen was born, becoming her new obsession. He fueled her desire to connect with preschool artists.

She had a 25-year career as a high school art teacher in the Santa Ana Unified School District, working for Saddleback and Santa Ana High Schools. As a teacher, Pat worked to inspire and encourage students to be creative and broaden their skills and knowledge about art and life. She worked to advance the students’ artistic confidence by showcasing their talents in public exhibits throughout the county. Pat established the “Art Attack Club” with her high school students to introduce art as action storytelling to express their family, culture, and community. She was a role model to many of her students, who later became teachers. She was annually voted “favorite teacher” by her students from the mid-1970s to her retirement in 1994.

Always eager to learn, she continued taking art classes throughout her life. Mid-career, she obtained an Art MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in 1983. She studied photography at Cal State Fullerton, Cypress College, and was deeply inspired by her teacher Jerry Burchfield. Through Jerry’s classes, she developed a niche in her mixed media projects where she could combine her painting skills with photography.

In retirement, she was busier than ever as an officer and then board member of local Laguna art groups: The Arts Alliance, Community Art Project (CAP), and LOCA. She was also a founding member of The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. Pat missed working with and inspiring children after retiring. She found her way back into teaching as a board member of LOCA, which enabled her to develop art programs for the Boys and Girls Club and the program “Kids Art at the Library” in Laguna Beach.

Between her volunteer activities, Pat loved to exercise by taking long walks along the beach and swimming in the ocean, providing inner peace and reflection for her active mind.

The world has lost one of the most creative artists and thinkers who never stayed on the path with others but found a way to meet up with them in the end. She talked endlessly to everyone she encountered, problem-solving their issues whether requested or not and attempted matchmaking with strangers and friends based on astrology. She had a great sense of humor and lived an abundant, blissful life. Pat didn’t live within the boundaries of the ordinary. She was, instead, extraordinary.

Pat leaves behind her loving husband, Raoul D. Phillips, two daughters, Katie Whiteside and Terry Whiteside, son-in-law Tony Hudgins, grandson, Cullen, sister Susan B. Lobo, and niece Kelina Lobo, along with many friends.

Pat will be laid to rest on February 2, 2023, at 11 a.m. at the El Toro Memorial Park Cemetery. All family and friends are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, please donate to LOCA, CAP, or OCCCA in memory of Patricia Whiteside Phillips. An art retrospective is planned for a future date, to be announced later.

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