Sigrid Hagen Phillips, a long-time resident of Abingdon, passed away on Saturday, October 1, 2022, at Valley Healthcare in Chilhowie.
Sigrid was known for her love of hiking and all animals, wild and domestic. As a founding member of the Animal Defense League of Washington County, VA, Sigrid volunteered thousands of hours, year after year, roaming about Washington County trapping feral cats, having them spayed and neutered and returning them to human care. Sigrid also helped organize and maintain a local feeding and shelter program for cats. If there was an abandoned or hurt animal in need of feeding or tending, nearly everyone in the county knew to call Sigrid for help and advice. In the early 1980s, Sigrid and her husband, along with a few other Abingdon couples, were instrumental in compelling the County to build its first animal shelter and enforce humane animal laws.
Sigrid was born June 19, 1939, in Zurich, Switzerland. Even as World War II engulfed the continent, as the daughter of the late Franz Joseph Hagen and Elsa Anna Morf, Sigrid had an idyllic childhood with her two older brothers. Sigrid credited her parents for her early love of hiking, her loving compassion and respect for animals and nature, and her strong work ethic in protecting animals and the environment.
After graduating from public school in Zurich, Sigrid attended a commercial university in Switzerland in preparation for a career in business. Sigrid began her working career with a large global shipping company in Geneva, Switzerland and later with the company’s London, office. In the mid-sixties, she worked for Dow Chemical in Zurich, followed by several years with Dow-USA in Williamsburg, Va. It was in Williamsburg Sigrid met and fell in love with her husband to be, William Spurgeon Phillips (Bill), who was serving as a Virginia State Trooper.
Sigrid and Bill were married on March 3, 1970, in Durham, N.C. Bill took an overseas position with USAID, serving in a civilian security capacity in South Vietnam. Sigrid then lived in Thailand until she was permitted to join Bill for the duration of his service in Vietnam. Following the 1973 brokered peace agreement, Bill and Sigrid left Viet Nam along with all U.S. personnel and returned to the states. Bill soon accepted the position of Chief of Police in Abingdon and the Phillips settled in Abingdon, making their permanent home.
Sigrid was employed in Abingdon by Potts and Hicok, CPAs, followed by Johnston Memorial Hospital, before becoming a business administrator with Paramont Farms, where she worked for 27 years until her retirement. Sigrid often hiked in and around Abingdon with her dogs, especially at Paramont, along the Creeper Trail and among local cemeteries. She developed a protective love for these hiking spots, which led to her volunteer service on Abingdon’s Sinking Springs Cemetery Committee. Sigrid was always an attentive steward of the environment and a dedicated recycler, having developed a small private aluminum recycling program in the County with proceeds from sales used to help buy feed for local cats, which is still ongoing.
Sigrid is survived by her brothers, Franz Hagen, Jr. and Erich Hagen, both of Zurich. Also surviving are Franz’s children: Martin Hagen and his wife Barbara, and Andreas Hagen and his partner Christine Gysling; Martin’s daughter Katharine Hagen and her husband Samuel Frei, and Martin’s son Christian Hagen, his wife Cristina Hagen, and their babies Simon and Michael; as well as three cousins, Silvia Hagen, Peter Hagen, and Marina Hagen, all of Switzerland.
Following cremation, Sigrid will be interred beside her husband Bill at Quantico National Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Animal Defense League of Washington County at P.O. Box 2099, Abingdon, VA 24212.
The family of Sigrid Elsa Hagen Phillips is being cared for by Farris Cremation and Funeral Center, 19415 Lee Highway, Abingdon, VA.