After Phyllis Dorricott's beloved husband Bob died in 2002, she made a decision to stay active and make a contribution to her community, and the first place she wanted to volunteer was the hospital that had taken such good care of him and her family over the years.
The couple, who became engaged the night of Phyllis' high school senior ball, moved from Oakland to Los Altos with their three children in 1972, when Bob took charge of the southern distributorship for Van Dyke Valve and Fitting. Six months after they relocated, their 12-year-old daughter Pam was struck by a car while she was riding her bicycle. It was the era before cell phones and neither Phyllis nor Bob could be reached right away. Pam was taken by ambulance to El Camino Hospital where she was diagnosed with a leg broken in multiple places and a concussion. "The hospital chose the doctors for us, all of whom were wonderful. Pam stayed for two weeks and celebrated her 13th birthday there. The care and compassion she received was extraordinary, and I have never forgotten it."
Pam recovered beautifully and the family settled into their new community. In 1977, Bob bought the business. In addition to selling valves from his supplier, he also designed them for all the electronics firms along the Peninsula including Hewlett Packard, Applied Materials, and Varian among many others, growing the company from one of the smallest to one of the largest in the world. Phyllis became the firm's bookkeeper even though she had no prior experience. She learned on the job, which she says was a lot of fun. The couple worked together until Bob retired in 2001.
Outside of work the family's big hobby was car racing. Bob and son Bobby competed all over North America and Bobby won championships in several categories. When they stopped racing themselves they developed a three-car team of other drivers. Phyllis loved to go to the meets and brushed elbows with celebrities like Paul Newman and Lorenzo Lamas over the years.
In 2001, shortly after he retired, Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had surgery at El Camino Hospital but the cancer returned after several months. Although his doctor consulted physicians across the United States, there was little he could do.
The Dorricotts had been regular donors to El Camino Hospital Foundation ever since Pam's accident. Foundation staff often visited Phyllis while she was with Bob in the hospital and after he died they gently encouraged her to become involved. She began by making a donation to the golf tournament raffle and then joined the gala committee. One year later she was gala committee chair, a role she reprised with co-chair Bernis Kretchmar the following year, and she has served on the gala and golf committees ever since. Phyllis joined the Foundation board of directors in 2003 and is completing her ninth year of service, including a two-year term as board chair.
In addition to volunteering Phyllis has continued to philanthropically support El Camino Hospital Foundation. In 2005 she made a generous gift to the Imagine Campaign to name the Cancer Center waiting room in memory of her beloved husband. She has also made an unrestricted planned gift from her 401K.
"I am concerned about the future of health care. Any support we can give is important." Besides, she adds, "It is very easy to make a gift through your 401K without redoing your will or trust and know that the hospital will receive the money."
When asked to explain her extraordinary level of commitment Phyllis simply says, "I love El Camino Hospital and I see the need."
Reflecting back on her life and experience she advises, "If you have the time and ability, do whatever you want to do now, don't put it off. It is important to live your life to the fullest." For Phyllis that means volunteering for and contributing to the hospital that has always taken care of her family and her community.