Updated: Jan 6
Benjamin Kimball Phipps, Jr., (1933-2022) founded the Christina Phipps Foundation in memory of his daughter Christina. He was a former US Army artillery captain and a tax attorney. His noted law career spanned six decades. He was a splendid man.
Ben was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Benjamin Kimball Phipps and Bertha Elizabeth Forsyth on January 16, 1933. The family relocated to Tallahassee when he was four years old and his formative years were spent in the woods of Ivanhoe Plantation, where they settled. His father died shortly thereafter, leaving his mother to raise him alone. His love of nature and plants grew naturally from his time spent at home and on the shores of Lake Hall. He never really understood any man who did not know the names or peculiarities of the flora and fauna on his property. He grew up listening to the stories of the pilots training at Mabry field during World War II, he was an Eagle Scout at age fourteen and was educated at Sewanee Academy in Nashville, Tennessee for a time. He then moved to the prestigious Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts for the remainder of his preparatory schooling.
Although accepted at Princeton University, after being taken in by the beauty and history of the University of Virginia, he chose to enroll there. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce before advancing to the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating with honors. He was the managing editor of the Virginia Law Weekly. A member of the Jefferson Circle and the Lawn Society, he was also active in fraternal organizations and athletics.
After graduation, Ben enlisted in the United States Army Officer Training School. In the Army, he first served as a Lieutenant in the E Special Troops section, being jump qualified. He advanced to the rank of Captain, serving overseas in Korea in 1962-1963 in the First Cavalry Division artillery. He also served as an officer for the Judge Adjutant General. Ben wrote for the Pacific Division of the Stars and Stripes, drafting the obituary for John F. Kennedy for that newspaper. He always recalled his days as an officer with fondness. Some sixty years removed from military service, he could perform the manual at arms with an M1 Garand or calculate the firing solution for any type of battery—rocket or cannon—which he had commanded.
Ben was married to Phyllis Jarrett Anderson, his intellectual equal, in 1962. Two years after the birth of their first daughter, Jarrett, Ben left the Army to be a husband and father and moved his young family back to Tallahassee. In 1965, their second child, Christina was born. He was always extremely proud and supportive of his daughters. He eventually cleared land on Lake Hall and built the home where the girls were raised, naming it Jubilee. As many can attest, he was a gracious host who loved to entertain friends at Jubilee.
Ben was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1964 and practiced law, specializing in state and federal taxation, for six decades. He had a reputation as a vigorous and successful litigator and insightful consultant. He was counsel to the House Tax Committee of the Florida Legislature for four years and counsel to the Speaker for an additional two years. During that time, he wrote most of the present statutory language on ad valorem taxes. He later represented the Florida Bar as their lobbyist on local and state tax matters for eight years. He served on the state and Local Tax Committee of the American Bar Association. He was the only lawyer in Florida who held the CMI designation in Property Tax from the Institute of Professionals in Taxation. He held many offices in the Florida Bar tax section and practiced at every level of State and Federal Court in Florida.
In civic life, Ben was a champion of historic conservation, serving on the board of the Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation and the Florida Heritage Foundation. He was one of the leading citizens of the City and State who fought to preserve the “Old” State Capitol building. He was a charter member of the Tallahassee St. Andrews Society, The Capital Tiger Bay Club, the Florida Economic Club, and the Governor’s Club. He also served as a member of the Maclay School board of trustees, on the Exchange Club of Tallahassee, and for the Florida Bar News/Journal (chairman in 1979-1980). He was twice recognized by the Tallahassee Trust for individual achievement in, and contributions to, historic preservation (1999 and 2022). He served on the board of the Jefferson Grounds Initiative at the University of Virginia and chaired the governance committee that established the by-laws. Ben and Phyllis and lived their days at Jubilee in great solace, commenting that there were few places as nice on earth. He loved German Shepherds and orange cats, he kept both regularly. He loved the camellias that he grew. He enjoyed swimming, canoeing, and rowing his scull across Lake Hall. He suffered tremendously when Christina (2010) and Phyllis (2013) died. Ever stalwart, however, he remained active and engaged in professional and civic life.
Ben loved to learn. He was an intellectual of the first order and always a gentleman in word and deed, even—and sometimes especially—when engaged in vigorous debate. Brilliant, gregarious, engaging, and a voracious reader, he had an ability to retain any legal, literary, or scientific work he had reviewed. He was adroit in synthesizing the various pieces of knowledge that he had, formulating precise and enlightening positions which he loved to have challenged. He was fond of history and biography, with a keen interest in military history and great statesmen such as Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt. In 2021, Ben finally fulfilled a lifelong desire. Inspired by those childhood memories of Mabry Field, he took flying lessons and earned his pilot’s license.
Gifts in memory of Ben can be made to the Christina Phipps Foundation, P.O. Box 1351, Tallahassee, Florida 32302 or at this website on the donations page.