Advocate for homeless dies at 61 – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Advocate for homeless dies at 61

An advocate for the homeless who ran for councillor in this year's municipal elections has died.

Derrick Phipps, a former pensions lawyer who slipped into drug addiction and ended up living on the streets until last year, was 61 years old.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette last year, Mr Phipps told of his struggles with substance abuse and turning his life around.

“Growing up in the inner city of New York and living in San Francisco, becoming a professional person as a lawyer, I never dreamed I would one day be homeless myself,” he said at that time. “Having had this experience and had a substance abuse problem, you learn first-hand about the different challenges and one of the things that I noticed personally was the fact that I didn't know how and where to get help.”

Mr Phipps lived in Bermuda until he was about ten, when he moved to the US with his mother.

As an adult, he held down a successful career as a pensions lawyer and had a wife, from whom he is now divorced, and a son.

“I used to be a world-class runner in Bermuda too,” he said. “That's how I got to college. I got married at Marylebone in London, where I did my internship. I have lived all over.”

But when he returned to the Island 13 years ago, he found himself unemployed and suffered with depression before, he said, self-medicating with cocaine.

However, after kicking his addiction and finding a place to live through the Salvation Army's Harbour Light programme, the Warwick resident focused his energies on helping others who were living rough.

He became an advocate for the homeless and a member of City Hall's Committee on Homelessness in the City of Hamilton.

In April this year, he announced his intentions to run for councillor in the municipal elections — although he did not win a seat, he received 58 votes.

After being re-elected, councillor RoseAnn Edwards, whom Mr Phipps described as a “friend and confidante”, said she was inspired by his “commitment to creating paths for others”.

“I have been inspired by Derrick Phipps, a former pensions lawyer who uses his brilliant mind to advocate for the homeless,” she stated in May.

Former pensions lawyer: Derrick Phipps

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 08, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated September 08, 2015 at 9:29 am)

Advocate for homeless dies at 61

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon