Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Carol Lee Phillips

I met Lee at an aerobic exercise class at the Fitness Edge.  It's an amazing group, very welcoming, and Lee was one of the first people I spoke with after joining.  I was impressed by her serenity.  I know that sounds odd, but she radiates a kind of calm dignity.  When I asked her to join my photo essay project, she was very gracious.

Lee was born in Bridgeport, CT in 1932.  She lived a busy life with husband Charles Allen Phillips, medical school, four children and a rewarding career as a pediatric infections disease specialist, becoming Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont.

She loved her work - seeing patients, teaching medical students and residents.  As department Chair her work became more administrative and after ten years she retired.  Her husband Allen had passed away and she kept busy with volunteer work, lecturing on epidemiology for the Vermont Health Department and continuing a 20 year involvement in pediatrics at the Lund Family Center.  Lee served on the Board for many years.

Lee has family all over the country, including three grandchildren in college in Vermont.  She uses her computer "just for email" to keep up with them.  She's an avid reader who like variety - adventure, detective, travel - she just "loves to have a book in her hand" and her black cat Molly beside her.

Lee says she was never a "sports" person and had no time for exercise while working, but began walking after retirement and now enjoys both walking and water aerobics.  One book she enjoys is Isn't Pushing 90 Exercise Enough?  by Marguerite Wolf.  If you'd like to find a copy, send me an email and I'll put you in touch.

She told me, “I am happy that I became a physician in a time when women doctors were rare. On the medical faculty I served as a role model for a lot of entering women. Many were very reassured to see that I could have a career in medicine and still have a good marriage and happy children.”

“I was pleased to be able to help my patients and teach Pediatrics to the student and resident. As the department chairman, I interacted with all the pediatricians in Vermont and a lot in New Hampshire and Upper New York state and enjoyed them all.  Now that I am retired I look back with pleasure on my career and cherish my children and grandchildren. I had and still have a very satisfying life.”

Lee also enjoys her neighbors, stays active with friends and keeps up with world events.  She was a pleasure to photograph.  See you in the pool, Lee!

UPDATE February 16, 2014:

Carol Lee Phillips was recently honored with a Lund Family Center Heart of the Community Award at The Essex Resort & Spa.  Lee was the pediatrician at the Lund Center for more than 20 years and the fist female chair of pediatrics at the UVM College of Medicine/FAHC.

Lee was joined by a number of her colleagues who referred to themselves as "Lee Phillips' followers".

"Lee is at the grass roots of what pediatricians can do in this community", said Dr. Ann Guillot, chair of the FAHC pediatric residency program.  "She has taught hundreds of residents and students how to be a pediatrician and a good person.  She quietly did what needed to be done at Lund.  She is devoted to the needs of families and the notion of what it means for a woman to succeed."

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