Harry Kromer (1927-2019)
A war veteran and Hamilton businessman who was also one of the island’s top dairy farmers has died.
Harry Kromer was 92.
As a manager at the WJ Boyle & Son shoe store for more than 50 years, Mr Kromer, who retired in 1999, became one of the company’s best-known faces.
His son, Harry Jr, said Mr Kromer was “a total Bermuda character” who loved to share stories of fishing and his time manning the St David’s Battery with the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers.
The battery’s guns protected the channels and coastline at the East End throughout the Second World War.
Harry Jr added that Mr Kromer “enjoyed life to the fullest” and passed away “quietly and peacefully” this month at Westmeath Nursing Home.
Mr Kromer’s family, originally from Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, came to Bermuda just after the First World War.
Mr Kromer’s father, Frank, was a tailor whose clients included British royals.
He and his wife, Nellie, came to the island to work at Smith’s department store in Hamilton.
Mr Kromer was born and raised at Elba Beach in Paget, which later became Elbow Beach, and started work at 13 in a dry goods store where he sold boots and clothes.
Mr Kromer lived briefly in Canada after his wartime service and met Mahala, his first wife.
He started work at Boyle’s on Reid Street in Hamilton after he returned to the island in the late 1940s.
He went on to run its Queen Street branch and travelled overseas on buying trips.
His second wife, Grace, who died in 2011, worked at the Boyle’s children’s division on Church Street.
Mr Kromer was a keen fisherman and won tournaments on a regular basis.
His son said: “He became one of the top fishermen in Bermuda and set a couple of world records. His two great passions were the shoe business and fishing.
“When he got into the dairy business, his fishing hobby went by the wayside, but back in the day he would go to tournaments in Nassau in the Bahamas.
“There’s a plaque at the aquarium that he got for catching a tuna on a light line. After that, the cows took over.”
The dairy business started on a small scale — Harry Jr said the family “always had a couple of cows at the house”.
Mr Kromer, who had delivered milk as a child, went on to keep cattle at several farms, including one at Spittal Pond in Smith’s, his home parish.
A former chief of the Bermuda Dairy Association, Mr Kromer’s dairy business produced about 75 per cent of the island’s milk at its peak.
Michael Dunkley, an Opposition MP who owns Dunkley’s Dairy, said Mr Kromer “ran a very high-quality dairy farm”.
Mr Dunkley added: “I not only knew Harry as a person in the community, but as a friend and someone I did business with.
“He was a true gentleman who loved to share his life experiences.”
His son said Mr Kromer and his second wife were also “big ambassadors for Bermuda”.
He said: “They loved to invite people from overseas and give them tours of Bermuda. He should have been in the hospitality business like I was.”
The couple had three children, the late Norman Kromer, Harry Jr and his sister, Anne. Ms Kromer also had a son, Donald Lewis, from a previous marriage.
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