Bermuda has lost a unique human being’
Bermuda yesterday mourned a “unique human being” dedicated to making one Bermuda for all.
Robert Vaughan Barritt, a former Member of Parliament, senator and celebrated artist, died recently at the age of 88.
Speaking out about the death of his political colleague and family friend, former Premier Sir John Swan praised Mr Barritt as a talented businessman, artist and campaigner for human rights.
Sir John said that he excelled in his role as Minister of Cultural and Community affairs because of his passion for the arts and social justice.
“I have known Robert all my life,” he said. “He was a chap with a great charm. He had a great laugh and endeared himself to people because of his positive outlook on life itself.”
“He, as an artist, obviously had a knack for ensuring that people who had artistic interests were encourage to pursue them. He was also a great one for human rights and did everything he could to improve human relationships and introduce legislation to help bring Bermuda into the 21st century.”
Even after Mr Barritt stepped away from politics, Sir John said he had continued to do whatever he could to make sure the Island could be embraced by Bermudians of all races.
“He was really a unique human being and, while his passing is a sad one, his contribution to the Island has been profound,” he said. “I would like to express my condolences to his family, particularly his wife and his children.”
Premier Michael Dunkley also extended his condolences and said that Mr Barritt left an “indelible mark” on Bermuda’s history through his political, social and cultural advocacy.
Mr Dunkley said: “I knew Mr Barritt personally and considered him to be a very passionate individual about numerous matters and issues facing Bermuda.
“His important works of art chronicled Bermuda’s history in a very unique way, and we are grateful for his contribution to our society.
He added: “On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to Robert’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
One Bermuda Alliance chairman and senator Lynne Woolridge also extended her deepest sympathies to the Barritt family on behalf of the OBA, describing Mr Barritt as a “role model for a better Bermuda”.
“Mr Barritt was a businessman, Government minister, social activist and artist who used his life to serve his community and bring people together,” Sen Woolridge said.
“His strong faith in the Bermudian community enabled him to speak for change that helped break the segregationist mindset.
“His artist’s eye, sharpened by an acute sense of compassion and fairness, enabled him to depict the injustice of two Bermuda’s. And his demeanour throughout his lifetime – friendly, courteous and kind – set the best standard for public and private life.
“May he rest in peace,” Sen Woolridge added.
The Progressive Labour Party also offered their condolences to Mr Barritt’s family, noting his work as both a Minister of Parliament representing Pembroke East Central and a UBP senator.
A PLP statement said: “Mr Barritt, the uncle of former parliamentarian John Barritt, also contributed to Bermuda’s social consciousness by participating in efforts supporting desegregation, and speaking out in favour of universal adult suffrage. May his family be comforted by their memories during this difficult time.”
Gary Phillips, Chairman of the Bermuda National Gallery (BNG), said Mr Barritt was a true friend of the gallery.
“We are immensely proud and honoured to be the custodian of his work and gifts which form a part of Bermuda’s national collection,” Mr Phillips said. “These works are not only significant because of their artistic value but just as importantly because they are educational tools to our understanding and better appreciation of a Bermuda which he fought in his quiet manner to change.
“Among these is his much celebrated ‘Theatre Boycott, Upstairs Right 1959’ which is the perfect complement to the work Storm in a Teacup by his dear friend and fellow artist, the late Charles Lloyd Tucker.
“Although he always insisted, I could never accept his invitation to call him ‘Bobby’ – such was my respect for his life, his work and his sense of ‘equality, tolerance and peace’.
“The trustees and the administration of the BNG offer prayers of comfort to the Barritt family as they mourn his passing and celebrate his ascension.”
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