After waking in good spirits and with renewed strength following recent health complications, James “Jim” Steven Phipps passed away suddenly and peacefully on the morning of April 1, 2021 at the age of 81.
Loving husband of 23 years to Barbara. Cherished father to Patti (John) and Steven (April). Step-father to David (Shannon) and Waimin. Beloved grandfather of Jordan and James. Big brother to Shirley (Fred d.), Ernest (Charlotte), Ramon (Didi), Linda (Alan), and Gail (Ed). Loved and respected Uncle to many nieces and nephews. Great-grandfather to three.
Jim was born to Florence Maude (Stevens) and Samuel Thomas Phipps in Montréal, Quebec on September 29, 1939. At the age of 18, he drove his siblings and mother from Winnipeg to Montréal when Samuel took ill, and after the passing of his father Jim stepped up in assisting his mother in raising his younger siblings. He was not only a big brother but a father-figure as well, a role and responsibility he took up from the heart.
He was first married to Joan Potter in 1963 with whom he had his two children, Patti and Steven. In the first years of being a new parent and while working full-time, Jim pursued and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Sir George Williams University in Montréal.
Jim was an avid camper and enjoyed horseback riding and diving in his earlier years. He savoured a good game of pool, cards, and chess, once staying up until 4am playing against Mac, a frequent adversary on the board. Music was another one of his joys, first playing the cornet in the Salvation Army band and later teaching himself how to play guitar. Jim also liked to sing and proudly recalled how he had sung as a Yeoman in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Yeoman of the Guard.’ Though his musical interests varied greatly, Jim was particularly fond of Patti Page, Tom Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, and Johnny Cash.
June of 1994 found Jim Phipps in the Chelsea Inn hotel bar in downtown Toronto. The band was playing ‘Lady in Red,’ and how could he not ask the woman who was wearing one to dance? Four years later, Jim and his Lady in Red, Barbara, were married. The two enjoyed country drives and going to The Beaches on sunny afternoons, Jim reading his ebook on a park bench while Barbara strolled along Queen St. and brought him back a coffee and a snack to enjoy together. In 2005 the two decided to pack up and travel to China, where they both taught English. In the five years they taught there, Jim and Barbara travelled all over China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan during the school breaks.
Jim enjoyed a varied career including working at the Daily News in Montréal composing commercial ads, at Stelco, and as the Vice-President of Unitrex. A businessman and entrepreneur, he also owned a car stereo store & installation business in North York and First Choice, an ink cartridge business, in Ajax. In the early 2000s, Jim and Barbara co-owned the infamous ‘Q’ Bar on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto for a few years. The middle-aged couple would serve alcohol and play bouncer to hundreds of pierced and tattooed kids listening to live punk bands every week!
But no matter where he was, Jim was the same - a man who loved to joke and laugh. On one occasion he even had a hand in making a car disappear from a restaurant parking lot. Befitting his nature, Jim left us on April Fool’s Day wishing we could share a few more laughs and cherishing those we were fortunate enough to share in his inimitable presence. Jim was warm and eager to help others. He was calm, kind, and a fighter through and through, surviving both colon cancer and heart complications. Jim Phipps was larger than life.
A small service will be held on Tuesday, April 6 at Forest Lawn Mausoleum & Crematorium for a limited number of family due to present Covid circumstances. A celebration of life will be held at a later date when it is safe to do so. In the interim, the family will be creating a digital space to share photos and videos of Jim, and for other family and friends to share their own thoughts and memories.
Donations may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
Heart and Stroke Foundation