Sonny: a kind, generous man who loved to read

  • Avid reader: Reginald “Sonny” Furbert at a sleeping area on Church Street (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Avid reader: Reginald “Sonny” Furbert at a sleeping area on Church Street (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Sonny remembered: a memorial for Reginald “Sonny” Furbert, built around one of his possessions on his Church Street sleeping area (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

    Sonny remembered: a memorial for Reginald “Sonny” Furbert, built around one of his possessions on his Church Street sleeping area (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

  • Not alone: a 2010 photograph of Reginald “Sonny” Furbert with brother-in-law Charles Ford and sister Albertha Ford (Photograph supplied)

    Not alone: a 2010 photograph of Reginald “Sonny” Furbert with brother-in-law Charles Ford and sister Albertha Ford (Photograph supplied)


A homeless man who became a well-known figure in Hamilton was remembered yesterday.

Friends and family said Reginald “Sonny” Furbert, who was 70, was a talented tenpin bowler, an avid reader, a sharp dresser — and a kind and generous man.

Moira Bean, his sister, said: “He was very humble, very kind, and everybody loved him because he always used his manners.

“I loved going to church with him as a young kid because every time someone shouted ‘Amen’ he would copy them and go ‘Amen’.”

Mr Furbert was the youngest of six children and grew up in the Shelly Bay area before the family moved to Tills Hill, Hamilton, in the 1960s.

He was a keen bowler as a teenager and became Bermuda’s youngest champion in the sport when he was only 17.

Hattieann Gilbert, an international bowling champion and member of the Sports Hall of Fame, said Mr Furbert was her bowling partner in their youth.

She added: “He was a good bowler — he loved bowling and it was natural for him.

“We would always come first and I tell everybody that even when we played a low game, we were coming first.”

Roxanne Ford, 52, said her Uncle Sonny had a keen sense of style, particularly when he worked in a customer service job with British Airways at the airport.

Ms Ford said: “Every time I came into the airport he was there with his uniform on.

“He was so collected and together. I even went into the travel industry because I wanted to do what he did.”

She added that Mr Furbert went to Britain to study accounting when he was 21.

However, she said that after his mother, Theodora, went to Britain when Mr Furbert became ill and brought him home, he was not the same.

She explained: “We found out that someone had put some sort of drug in his drink at a pub. It just messed up his mind and he hasn’t been the same since.”

Albertha Ford, Mr Furbert’s sister, said that their mother tried to take care of him, but Mr Furbert decided to live on the street.

She added: “I can’t even explain how it felt to see him like that. It was very devastating.”

But Ms Ford said that, despite Mr Furbert’s circumstances, he never lost his thirst for knowledge and continued to read widely.

She said: “He was brilliant; even up to the day he died he was an avid reader.”

Wayne Furbert, the junior finance minister, said his second cousin was noted for his charity despite his position.

He said: “As much as Sonny had refused money from me, I’ve often seen Sonny offer me things.

“One lady even told me that she offered him food one day and he said that he was full and that she should give it to somebody else.”

“That’s the way Sonny was — he didn’t want to bother anybody — he just wanted to be a great force, so he’ll be missed.”

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Published Feb 1, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 1, 2019 at 9:57 am)

Sonny: a kind, generous man who loved to read

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