May 23, 2007 — The community was shocked and saddened Wednesday to learn of the death of Alfonso E. Nibbs, 59, who died unexpectedly on St. Thomas May 18.
Nibbs' name has become synonymous with the Government Employees' Retirement System, where he has served as legal counsel since 1998. Though he served for more than 30 years in the capacity as government attorney, he made his mark at GERS.
"It was in his position at GERS that Nibbs perhaps made his biggest contributions to the Virgin Islands," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. He knew Nibbs for years, including times when the two worked together. He expressed his sadness at hearing of his death.
"When the history of the retirement system is written, it will acknowledge Alfonso Nibbs as one of the persons who most passionately advocated for the financial solvency of the GERS," the governor said. Nibbs' sound legal advice to trustees of the retirement system will be sorely missed, he added.
Alfonso will also be remembered for his many years of dedicated service as staff attorney and general counsel to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and its predecessor agency, Consumer Services Administration, deJongh said. Nibbs provided sound advice to commissioners and directors on legislation that would protect consumers in the territory, as well as on issues that directly impacted residents of the islands, the governor said.
In fact, deJongh said, he had the opportunity to work with Nibbs and get the benefit of his counsel when he served as commissioner of finance, executive assistant to Governor Alexander Anthony Farrelly and while he served on the GERS Board of Trustees.
Sen. Louis Hill was similarly struck with the sudden loss of Nibbs, saying he received the news with "profound sadness."
"Attorney Nibbs was a gentleman of exceptional ability and served with distinction the Virgin Islands community in both private legal practice and within several Government agencies," Hill said. "He will, undoubtedly, be remembered for his unfailing commitment to preserve the Government Employees' Retirement System, and he fought his fight with not only determination but with compassion and love to protect — despite the odds — the retirements of all Virgin Islanders. "
Nibbs guarded the retirement system with great attention to detail, Hill said.
"His standard of excellence was best exhibited by his constant call for 'due diligence' in research and strict adherence to financing in accordance with actuarial requirements," the senator said. "This was his mantra, and on this he never wavered."
Nibbs attended Dober Elementary School and graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1967. He attended Howard University School of Law and attained a law degree in 1982. He held two masters degrees from the then College of the Virgin Islands, as well as a bachelor of arts and an associate in arts degree.
A U.S. Navy Veteran, Nibbs was honorably discharged after four years of service. He returned home after serving in the Vietnam War to open his own business, the V.I. Credit Bureau. In addition, Nibbs served as an adjunct professor of law and business administration at the University of the Virgin Islands. He held bar memberships in the Virgin Islands, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits, in addition to affiliations with a number of professional organizations.
A grateful community mourns the loss of this outstanding Virgin Islander," deJongh said. "Our prayer is that his family be comforted during this time of great sorrow."
Nibbs was born May 8, 1948, to Anna Rosalia Robles Nibbs and Lucien Eladio Nibbs on St. Thomas. Eight of his 14 siblings preceded him in death. He is survived by his five children: Anna R. Nibbs Rawls, Anita E. Nibbs, Luciano E. Nibbs, Antoinette E. Nibbs and Anthony E Nibbs. He also has five sisters: Iona E. Nibbs Williams, June E. Nibbs Van Holtgen, Delores Nibbs Daniel, Arona Nibbs, Amona Nibbs and one brother, Rudy E. Nibbs.
Nibbs' funeral is set for 11 a.m. Monday at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Anna's Retreat, according to his niece, Patricia Williams, GERS chief executive assistant. Viewing will precede the service beginning at 9:30 a.m. A viewing will also be held at the Davis Funeral Home Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Anyone who wishes to send a written tribute may do so by emailing Patricia Williams by 5 p.m. Thursday and including an attachment in Microsoft Word format. Tributes written on letterhead may also be sent via email in camera-ready format. Alternately, Williams will accept tributes delivered to her at GERS by the deadline.