One of Bermuda’s greats is gone’
An athlete, collector and treasure hunter, David Saul was yesterday described as a true jack of all trades.
Before entering the heated world of politics, Dr Saul was a teacher and avid runner who in 1957 set the national record for a 10-mile run.
He continued to run into his 70s, overcoming both a battle with prostate cancer in 2000 and two heart attacks in 2009, and was awarded a position on the Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
But in addition to his own athletics, Dr Saul was credited as someone who helped give others an opportunity to achieve.
Gary Wilkinson said he first met Dr Saul and Tom Warren around 55 years ago as they were working to find and develop young running talent on the island.
“I and many others were called up,” Mr Wilkinson said. “For me personally, he became the big brother that I never had.
“He was extremely helpful to me in my early years. I was not having much success academically and I wasn’t interested in school much, but when I met David he recognised that I had a little bit of talent and he helped to develop that.
“I was eventually able to take that work ethic he gave me and apply it academically.”
Mr Wilkinson also noted Dr Saul’s work in bringing different schools together athletically, saying: “He brought black and white students together and let them compete on a level playing field.
“If there is one thing I think encapsulates the life of David, it’s that when he died, he did so on empty because he lived his life on full. I’m certain all of us would like to know that we didn’t leave any stone unturned, that we did everything possible. That’s what David did.”
Dr Saul was also known to some as a collector of Bermudian currency. Over the course of more than 40 years, he collected hundreds of rare bills, including notes dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th century — some hand signed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority signatories whose names were on the notes.
In 2013, he put his collection up for auction, raising around £300,000 for charity.
Fellow collector Peter Adderley said he first spoke to Dr Saul after obtaining some rare Penny Black stamps, and a friend suggested reaching out to him.
“I started to talk to him about my currency collection and he was quite interested in what I had and wanted to see them,” he said. “I thought it would be 15 minutes, but we spent half a day.” He said Dr Saul told him numerous historical details about Bermuda currency and urged Mr Adderley to write a book.
“He was always a very generous man,” Mr Adderley said. “One of Bermuda’s greats is gone. He had a heart of gold.”
Later in life, Dr Saul turned his attention below the sea with Odyssey Marine Exploration, which used modern technology to locate seabed minerals and treasures lost at sea.
The company made headlines for high-profile discoveries, including the wrecks of SS Republic, SS Central America and HMS Victory.
His interest in wealth hidden beneath the waves later brought him into conflict with supporters of the Blue Halo Project, who sought to turn a wide section of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone into a marine reserve.
Among the many who benefited from his philanthropy was Cindy Swan, co-founder of the seniors’ group Project Action, who recalled Dr Saul offering hand-carved cedar sculptures to the charity’s fundraisers. “He invited me up to his home and proudly shared his extensive rare stamps and coin collections and other fabulous artefacts,” she said.
“I recall joking with him, telling him he still had that special teacher instinct as he showed me around, including pointing to the spot in the ocean where his eternal remains would rest. He not only donated the signed whale sculptures, he attended Project Action’s High Tea to conduct the auctioning himself. On behalf of Project Action’s board of directors, we send our heartfelt condolences.”