Philip H. Didriksen Jr. of Nantucket, Mass., passed away peacefully at home Sunday, July 4, 2021. He was 91 years old. The cause was cancer.
He was born in Harrisburg, Pa., on April 5, 1930, to the late Philip and Jewell Perry Didriksen. Due to numerous family moves related to his father’s business and military careers, he attended public schools located in Minnesota, western New York and southern Ohio, graduating from high school in Franklin, Ohio, in 1948. He entered Yale that fall, graduating with an M.S. degree in economics in 1952. After two years in the U.S. Air Force as an investigations officer, he entered Harvard Business School, from which he received a master’s degree in 1956.
He had a long and successful business career in New York City, first focusing on securities research and management and later creating and running mutual funds. His positions included partner at two international securities brokerage firms and CEO of mutual funds and cash management businesses. He said that the most fun of his business activities came from his involvement very early in the money market fund phenomenon. He retired from day-to-day business activity in 1992 at the age of 62.
He met Helen Elfers in 1963, when she was a reporter for The Greenwich Time newspaper in Connecticut, having graduated from Mount Holyoke College as an English major the year before. He was particularly interested in her knowledge of music and the theater. She was a singer, and at the newspaper she was the summer theater review editor. They were married the next year and lived in Greenwich Village in the famous narrowest house in New York City. Two years later, after their first son was born, they moved into a house in Riverside, Conn., that was large enough for the four children that their family was to include. The couple lived there for 40 years before relocating to the home in Nantucket that they had purchased in 1989. They also had a home on Hashamomuck Pond in Southold, Long Island, N.Y., and a beach house on the Gulf of Mexico at Little Gasparilla Island in Florida.
He and his wife were lifetime members of Riverside Yacht Club, where they participated for many years in one-design sailboat racing with their Flying Scot. They also were greatly interested in sailboat cruising, having chartered boats many times in Maine and the Caribbean before buying Lady K, a 41-foot ketch, which he owned for 25 years and sailed extensively in Southern New England, Nova Scotia, Maine and the Chesapeake, in addition to a voyage to Bermuda.
Phil was an expert skier and rented homes in Vermont for the winter for family weekend outings. He skied many places in Europe and the Rockies and was especially fond of his annual week with the Bad Boys, a group of friends that met each year to ski Jackson Hole. He played full-court basketball once a week for many years, stopping in his 60s, and kept active at tennis until he was 88. The game of bridge increasingly became of interest to him as he aged, and he played duplicate regularly at the Saltmarsh Center in Nantucket. Business, historical interest and love of travel spurred his many trips within North America and to Europe, Asia and Africa.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Helen Didriksen, and his sister, Patricia Royall, in 2018. He is survived by his companion, Anne Moore of Exeter, N.H.; sons, Bradford Didriksen (Paula) of Maui, Hawaii, Michael Didriksen (Leah) of Port Washington, N.Y., and Stephen Didriksen of Nantucket, Mass.; a daughter, Katherine Barone (Brandon) of Ridgefield, Conn.; seven grandchildren; and two nephews, a niece and numerous cousins.
Private services and burial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of condolences, donations may be made in his name to the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) or the Saltmarsh Senior Center. For the NHA, please visit nha.org/join-give/giving/give-to-the-nha, choose the “Give to the Annual Fund” option and click “Tribute Information” to allocate your contribution in his memory. You can also make a gift by mail (check payable to the Nantucket Historical Association) to the Development Department, Nantucket Historical Association, P.O. BOX 1016, Nantucket, MA 02554. For Saltmarsh, please send checks payable to Nantucket Center for Elder Affairs Inc. (NCEA), specifying “Bridge supplies” in the memo line, and mail to Saltmarsh Senior Center, 81 Washington St. Ext., Nantucket, MA 02554.
This is a paid notice.