Eugene Rayner (1941-2020)
A former broadcaster who became a fixture of the Newport Bermuda and Marion Bermuda races has died.
Eugene Rayner was 78.
Mr Rayner got involved with the races in 1994 after years as a ham radio enthusiast.
He became the races’ director of communications, and chairman of the finish line committee in 2003.
His widow, Miranda Fountain, said yesterday Mr Rayner was “the kindest, most gentle and most unselfish person, always ready to give a helping hand or an ear to someone suffering grief”.
Ms Fountain said her husband had grown up in a racially segregated Bermuda and won a scholarship to the Berkeley Institute from Central School in Pembroke, now Victor Scott Primary School.
He went on to study engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto, and became an entrepreneur when he returned to the island, running two plant nurseries with his late first wife, Jean.
Mr Rayner told The Royal Gazette when he retired from his yacht racing duties in 2014: “It’s all fun, be it daylight or not.”
He said one of his favourite tasks had been lookout duty from the former US Navy watch tower at St David’s Lighthouse as he waited for the first yacht to cross the finish line.
Mr Rayner worked for the Capital Broadcasting Company in the 1960s and was a former programme director for ZFB, where his work included producing live children’s shows with the late Montague “Monty” Sheppard.
He was a founding director of the Bermuda School of Music and his tenor voice was prized by a range of the island’s choirs.
Mr Rayner was also a founding member of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Bermuda.
He was the first man and first black person to be president of the Bermuda Rose Society and a keen member of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, as well as the Bermuda Musical&Dramatic Society.
He served as chairman of the parent teacher association for the Bermuda High School for Girls.
Ms Fountain said her husband had loved gardening and cooking, and that his work with the finish line committee of the Newport and Marion races had been his “tour de force”.
She added: “No one would realise the amount of work that was entailed in that, but he went about the duties without, or nearly without, fuss.
“Both yacht clubs recognised his contribution when he had to give it up.”
Mr Rayner died on January 5 after a struggle with diabetes and Ms Fountain thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for her husband in his last months.
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