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Y mourns passing of caretaker / April 15, 2019
Employees and members of the Halifax County/South Boston YMCA are mourning the passing of Murray Stephen “Steve” Chipps Jr., who was found dead Saturday morning inside the Hamilton Boulevard facility.

Chipps was 56.

The YMCA was closed all day Saturday in the aftermath of the discovery, made by police after they received a call from family to report that Chipps was missing. Officers found Chipps inside the building around 7:00-7:20 in the morning, said Y executive director Kristen Zerbato. He died of apparent natural causes.

As caretaker of the YMCA facility, Chipps was one of the last employees to leave at the end of the day. Along with being a diligent employee, Chipps was a beloved presence in the building, an upbeat personality who found humor in almost any situation — including the flooding of his South Boston home during Tropical Storm Michael in the fall.

“He not only took care of maintenance issues and kept the building really clean, he took care of the members and the staff,” said Zerbato. “His laugh will always been in the building. He will definitely be missed.”

Zerbato called Chipps “a caretaker, a friend, and for me he was like a second dad. My family is from New York, and he was always looking out for me.” She added, “He knew no strangers. If anybody had a problem or needed anything, stranger or not, he was the first one to say, ‘Absolutely, what can I do to help.’”

YMCA employees created a memorial to Chipps at the glassed-in area where he gave massages every Wednesday as a massage practitioner. Balloons and flowers have been placed around a portrait of Chipps, smiling as usual.

The YMCA will hold a memorial for Chipps on Friday, at a time to be set, to give friends, co-workers and Y members a chance to pay their respects and tell stories of Chipps’ hand in almost everything that took place inside the building. A funeral will be held Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at Powell Funeral Home, with visitation one hour prior to the service.

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