Barbara H. Phillips

Published 1:10 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Barbara H. Phillips of Arlington, Virginia died suddenly in her sleep in the early morning of February 11, 2020. She was born in Santiago, Chile on June 16, 1934.

Her father, Manuel Eduardo Hübner-Richardson, was a journalist, author, congressman, government spokesman, diplomat and university professor. Her mother, Vicenta Vidal-Hübner, studied law and was at the center of the intellectual/literary youth movement of the time. Barbara grew up in Chile, Peru, Mexico, New York City, Cuba, Los Angeles and Canberra, Australia, a result of her father’s career as a diplomat. She attended Liceo No.1 in Santiago and the University of Chile, where she majored in dance and became part of the Chilean National Ballet. She immigrated to the United States in 1956 intending to join a professional ballet company, but became an interpreter working initially on contract for the State Department and the Organization of American States. She was the first regular staff member hired by the newly formed Interamerican Development Bank in Washington, DC in 1960.

In 1985, she was hired as permanent staff by the State Department’s Office of Language Services as a diplomatic interpreter. Her languages were English and Spanish both ways and from Portuguese and French into English or Spanish. She interpreted on various occasions for three American Presidents, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and William Clinton.

Her passions besides her family were gardening, politics, visual art, ballet and the opera. In 1993- 1994, she designed and she and Rufus built a second home in Charlotte County in Southside Virginia on part of “Gravel Hill,” the farm where he grew up, and where his sister, Lucretia Whitehouse, was living. The house was called Cedar Grove.

Hers was a life of grace, of beauty and of love for her family and her country. She was incredibly courageous. Though confined towards the end to a wheelchair she never gave up on walking again. She left an indelible impression on all who met her of empathetic intelligence and kindness. Barbara had an uncanny ability to connect with the most diverse people from all walks, races, and cultures. Few who met her would ever forget her.

Barbara is survived by her husband, Rufus C. Phillips III; her children, Rufus C. Phillips IV of Richmond, Anne Phillips Schelle of Ruxton, MD, Edward Dean Phillips of San Francisco, CA, Patricia Phillips Shields of Falls Church; her nephew like a third son, Carlos Hübner Arteta of New York City, NY; her grandchildren, Colfax Phillips, Megan Phillips, Alexandra Schelle, Amelia Schelle, Leidy Shields and Carlos Shields; her sister, Carla Hübner-Kraemer of Washington, DC; her brother, Douglas Hübner of Santiago, Chile. She was predeceased by her older brother, Manuel Eduardo Hübner II and her older sister, Alma Hübner.

Barbara will be buried in a private ceremony in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington on February 29, 2020. An open celebration of Barbara’s life for all who knew her will be held at 2 p.m. at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean VA 22101 on Sunday, March 1, 2020. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to her favorite charities: Planned Parenthood of Washington, DC or the national organization at or 1-800-430-4907, or to the Nature Conservancy at or 1-800-628- 6860.

Local announcement by Jeffress Funeral Home of Charlotte Court House, Virginia.