A great man of wisdom and influence
J.C. “Kit” Astwood was an indomitable force in local politics and business for at least a half-century in Bermuda.
From the late 1950s and into the 21st century, nothing happened in the political sphere or business that Kit did not have some involvement.
In so many episodes, he was the quiet power behind the scene. Those who know could not count the episodes and shapes of events where his hand or advice was sought or implemented.
Even events that may seem external to his influence, such as the 1965 split in the Progressive Labour Party, which some believe was just an internal rift — he would laugh in reflection of how that was staged and manipulated from Front Street, often in his or Sir Henry Tucker’s office.
Kit was a very approachable individual and a polished diplomat. His intellect was honed by history and an experience through a family that stretched all the way to the founding fathers of Bermuda.
As he recalled, his original ancestor was brought in as a teacher to the Tucker family. Then through marriage and assimilation, he became attached to the prominent families that led Bermuda from the 17th century onward. Astwood Park is a remnant of what once stretched from coast to coast.
Kit was a Member of Parliament from 1968 to 1980. I don’t recall him holding down a ministry or taking a high profile on any public matter, but that would not be because he had no interest.
Usually, he would be on a ground level organising and putting persons in place who would defuse, benefit or get a rise out of what may be a difficult or challenging problem. I never saw a situation where he did not have his own interpreted solution — even if counter to mine.
They say a man is judged by his works; well, he did a lot of works and it will be difficult for a mortal such as me to begin to place a value judgment other than to say that I believe he did the best he could do within the context of his time and era.
Kit was a squire whom I on occasion would go to get advice on strategy or methodology to get certain matters of mine done.
He always had a strategy and, with his deep experience, often had the language sets and instruments to approach many situations. In that regard, his absence over the past decade and now his death is an absolute miss.
The passing of Kit is the passing of a time and era that is now all but gone. Bermuda is now struggling to find a new identity that has the currency to be reliably seen in the world as a progressive jurisdiction.
The baton has been passed and Kit’s death symbolises much of that. The question is, who will be the new kings in the land, or even who will be the new squires on whose wisdom to guide our future shall be built.
Rest in peace.
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