Business leader Donald Lines dies at 82

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  • Former Bank of Bermuda president Donald Lines with wife Janine, several of their children and their spouses, at a Christmas gathering

    Former Bank of Bermuda president Donald Lines with wife Janine, several of their children and their spouses, at a Christmas gathering


Former colleagues hail driving force for bank’s worldwide expansion

Former colleagues of Donald Lines from his time as Bank of Bermuda president yesterday hailed the businessman as the driving force for the bank’s international expansion.

Cummings Zuill said that he was saddened to hear of Mr Lines’ passing, saying: “I liked the guy very much. He was a terrific man, very bright.

“He did a lot for the bank and Bermuda. It was a pleasure to work with him. He was very strong and dynamic, which sometimes caused some challenges, but he was a good man and a nice man.”

He said the bank would probably not have expanded internationally in way it did without Mr Lines as a driving force, saying: “We needed someone like Donald who was very internationally minded, very wise and very knowledgable about what it took to move the bank forward.

“I think that the expansion and the network that we were able to build was very impressive for such a small bank. Of course later on we were playing against the big boys and we couldn’t compete with their capital.”

Barry Shailer meanwhile said that Mr Lines was a “tough but fair” leader who was always very conscious of the impact the bank on the Island as a whole.

“I remember him saying that there will be times when the bank has to make decisions which are not necessarily good for the bank but good for Bermuda,” Mr Shailer said. “He saw the importance of the bank to Bermuda and how it could influence the greater success of the Island.

“He was an inspiration to those who were fortunate enough to work with him. More than anyone he was responsible for the international expansion of the bank, ultimately into 14 countries around the world where we had offices.”

Former Bank of Bermuda president Donald Lines — considered to be one of the architects of the modern Bermuda economy — has died following a long illness. He was 82 years old.

His son, Scott Lines, yesterday described his father as a loving man dedicated to his family and Bermuda.

“He was wonderful,” he said. “I think everyone knew him as the businessman and they knew him as the hard worker, but they didn’t know that he was a father who was always there for his children and his family.

“It was always about his family. He loved Bermuda and he loved the ocean.

“He would go swimming in the ocean every day after he came home from work. Business was his hobby. He never put it above his family or Bermuda.”

Educated in Bermuda, Mr Lines qualified as a chartered accountant at McGill University in 1956. He first joined the Bank of Bermuda as a trust officer in 1969, and after several promotions was named the Chief General Manager in 1981.

He became the bank’s president and CEO in 1989 and worked to establish an international network of offices, building the bank’s assets from $250 million to $7.4 billion.

A founding member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda, Mr Lines also served as president of the Boy Scouts Association of Bermuda from 1972 to 1986.

Mr Lines retired from the role of president in 1994 and from the board of directors of the Bank in 1998. But he remained active in the business field, serving as the chairman of the LOM Group of Companies, Schroder Holdings Ltd, KFC (Bermuda) Ltd and as a director of more than 30 publicly listed companies. He was also a founding member of the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

A close confidante of longtime Bermuda Premier Sir John Swan, Mr Lines also held several public offices in the 1980s and ‘90s. He headed the committee which coordinated the planning and construction of Bermuda’s National Stadium and also chaired the Professional Services Committee which negotiated Bermuda’s Tax Treaty with the United States in 1985.

Among other things, this landmark agreement resulted in Washington DC agreeing to waive for eligible Bermudian insurance companies income and excise taxes on insurance premium income derived from the United States. The treaty is credited as the foundation upon which the rapid growth of Bermuda’s international business sector was built in the 1980s and ‘90s.

For his service to the Island, he was named a member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 1989.

One Bermuda Alliance backbencher Glen Smith described Mr Lines as a personal mentor and a man who made a lasting impact on the Island.

“It is a great loss for Bermuda,” Mr Smith said. “He put Bermuda on the map, there’s no doubt about it. He put Bermuda in good straits for many decades and for future generations.”

Mr Smith described Mr Lines as someone who was always hard at work behind the scenes but never wanted to take the credit for his accomplishments.

“His presence was always large in any room he went into,” he said. “He was a great listener and he would always give advice, good advice. He was a great help to me. He was a mentor of mine. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for him.

“He was a sort of surrogate father for me. I grew up in his house. He inspired me not just to start my own business, but to give back to the community, something that he loved to do.”

Former Premier Sir John Swan said Mr Lines was not only an “economic icon” who helped to create a new economic Bermuda in the 1980s, but also a close friend.

Expressing his condolences to Mr Lines’ wife and children, Sir John said: “He was very astute and understood the market and the direction it was going. He helped me enormously in my plan to restore Bermuda in a volatile climate during my tenure as Premier, and we have been friends for as long as I can remember.

“I have lost a good friend, a business colleague and some one I admired because they committed to expanding Bermuda’s economic life. I think he’s blazed a trail for many to follow, and I think that is being done today at LOM and other businesses that he has helped along the way, including mine. I will miss the wise advice and council I have received from him from time to time.”

Former Premier and Finance Minister David Saul said that while he had years of to and fro with Mr Lines over the issue of exchange control, he respected the former banker as a business leader who made a major contribution to building the Island’s economy.

Dr Saul said: “There is no doubt that Bermuda owes him a great debt for all of the work that he did to expand international business and indeed the Bank of Bermuda. Lots of businesses in Bermuda benefit from his efforts over the years.”

Finance Minister Bob Richards praised Mr Lines as a man of vision, saying: “He was a person of huge drive and imagination and he was really responsible for the global expansion of the bank.

“He really made the Bank of Bermuda into the Island’s flagship corporate entity.”

Long-standing friend and professional colleague Greg Haycock said that just as Mr Lines had stewarded the Bank of Bermuda into an international business, so too did he bring the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda to an international standing by initiating its affiliation with the Canadian institute. Those higher standards proved significant in building Bermuda’s business reputation overseas.

“I was a close friend of Donald’s for many years and valued his friendship and support greatly,” he said. “I also had the benefit of spending a lot of personal time with him over the last seven years during his illness discussing his thoughts and hopes for Bermuda.

“Even during his long illness he was still very interested in the future and development of Bermuda as he had so much to do with creating the international business structure that we have today. Donald was the driving force behind the international growth of the Bank of Bermuda and the success that the Bank later achieved around the world.

“Many of Donald’s accomplishments and relationships in business are well known but what many may not know was that Donald was a very involved family man.”

Mr Lines is survived by his wife Janine, four children, four stepchildren and 17 grandchildren. Other survivors include brother David Lines and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral service for Donald Lines will be held at St John’s Church, Pembroke on Thursday at 3pm.

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Published Dec 15, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 15, 2014 at 12:02 am)

Business leader Donald Lines dies at 82

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