Political statesman Edness dies

(This article originally appeared on The Royal Gazette. Click HERE to see the original post.)

Veteran politician and respected businessman Quinton Edness died yesterday. He was 86.

Mr Edness, who served as a United Bermuda Party MP for 30 years, passed away at his home in Warwick with wife Vicki and daughter Stacey at his bedside.

He was awarded the CBE in 1992 in the Queen’s New Year Honour’s List for his public service.

Mr Edness was elected to Parliament in 1968 after he won the Warwick West seat and went on to serve in the UBP Cabinet in a variety of roles.

He led the ministries of home affairs, health and social services, marine and air, works, agriculture and fisheries and community affairs.

Sir John Swan, the former premier, told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda had lost a “giant of a man”.

“My friendship with Quinton goes back to our childhoods when we used to play together on South Shore,” Sir John said.

“Quinton had a profound conscience and sensitivity about people. His life’s mission was to help people and he was prepared to make every sacrifice to achieve that aim.

“We served our country together and trailblazed initiatives that helped make Bermuda for the 21st century. Quinton was often the voice of reason and he never became bitter.

“He was a man who sacrificed so much for the good of Bermuda. He worked so hard and no one should forget that.

“But we were not only political associates — we were good friends, our families were close, and we continued to exchange ideas through our lives.”

Sir John added: “I want to extend my condolences to his wife, Vicki, and his daughter, Stacey, who have to bear this burden of losing such a husband and father. I will miss him very much.”

Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks, the last UBP premier, said Mr Edness was a “champion for Bermuda” who played a major role in her Cabinet.

She added: “We owe him a debt of gratitude for all the years he gave, selflessly, to this country. We had differences of opinion but whatever he said, he genuinely believed.

“He was larger than life, with his broadcasting voice and his disarming smile.”

Mr Edness was a consummate politician and a UBP heavyweight who steered several major Acts through Parliament, including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972, the Bermuda Housing Act 1980, the Human Rights Act 1981, the Public Works Act, 1984, the Waste and Litter Act 1987 and the Housing Assistance Programme 1988. He also represented the island around the world.

He was Bermuda’s representative at the Caribbean Health Ministers Conference and in 1979 he flew to New Zealand for a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Former government minister Leonard Gibbons said Mr Edness was “a wonderful Bermudian — Bermuda came first, and he did a great job in all the ministries he headed”.

He added: “Quinton started with the party when we went into party politics. He was a wonderful gentleman and a great Bermudian.”

Former UBP MP John Barritt said Mr Edness was a “dear friend and a dear colleague.

He added: “There was a reason they called him the Loveable Q and that’s because his personality and the way he treated people was so engaging, so personable, that even if you had disagreements with Quinton, and people did politically over the years, it was hard to be angry with the person.”

Mr Barritt said Mr Edness’s impact on Bermuda was “immeasurable”. He added: “And I don’t use word that lightly.”

Mr Barritt said Mr Edness worked tirelessly to “break down barriers”.

“He tried, and he succeeded in many ways, to cross racial lines and to bring people together.

“He loved Bermuda and Bermuda’s people, black and white, and he did all he could to advance Bermuda as a community.”

Mr Edness was a passionate golfer, a familiar face on the television and a respected businessman away from politics.

He attended Sandys Primary School and the Berkeley Institute and also spent time at Bloor Collegiate in Toronto.

Mr Edness joined the Bermuda Broadcasting Company as a trainee announcer in 1951 and nine years later became sales manager.

He later became a familiar face on television and an even more familiar voice on radio and continued to rise in the company until 1984 when he stepped down as managing director of radio and TV.

Mr Edness was also involved with a number of international organisations. He held directorships with many firms including the Bank of Bermuda, Canadian Pacific (Bermuda) Ltd and financial services firm LOM.

Former UBP official Ward Young and his wife Kim Young, a former minister, also paid tribute to Mr Edness.

Mr Young said: “I knew him 50 years — it was an amazing journey. We met on a plane in 1967 when we were both sent by the UBP to view an election in Ontario.

“Just before the door shut, he came on board, 6ft 4in with big Afro hair, looking like a god. We were very close friends ever since.”

He added: “If you cut him, he would bleed Bermuda.”

Mr Young said: “When the UBP fell apart, he never bolted — he just stayed the course with his philosophy of free enterprise and a social conscience. I wish we had more like him.”

Ms Young called him “a great source of advice who commanded attention — he was always thoughtful, especially thinking of others. Bermuda will miss him.”

Dennis Tucker, a former Hamilton councillor and a childhood friend from their South Shore neighbourhood in Warwick, said Mr Edness had watched out for him “as a big brother and a great mentor”.

Mr Tucker said: “He was thoughtful, with a genuine sensitivity. We were incredibly proud of him — all of us used to rush up to his Aunt Myrtle’s place to listen to his broadcasts.

“He never forgot us. During his later years he kept in touch with us all.

“In the last few years we had a luncheon group that met every Friday at his suggestion. He was the chairman of the group and we respected him for that.

“I always referred to him as ‘minister’ and that is how I remember him.”

David Burt, the Premier, said: “On behalf of the people of Bermuda, I extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of former government minister, the Honourable Quinton Edness.

“Mr Edness was a respected politician, broadcaster, and businessman. He helped to shape the political landscape of Bermuda.”

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