Tribute to a man who literally gave the clothes off his back
I was on an exhausting end of a family trip in Atlanta with wi-fi only access on my mobile phone. On Sunday evening, at about 8.30, I turned on my phone in a wi-fi friendly zone and my WhatsApp started to go off like crazy, with at least ten people alerting me that Ronnie Baksh had passed away. Fearing this was a prank or joke, I called a trusted friend in Bermuda, who confirmed the death of Ronnie. I simply shouted at the top of my lungs: “Oh no, not Ronnie! Why?!”
Ronnie was a man who I got to know first simply as a lover of fashion. I, like my brothers, would go into Ronnie’s numerous store locations in the City of Hamilton over the years to find unique, stylish, quality men’s clothing on the island.
However, clothing was my initial interest in visiting The Edge. What I received in return was much more valuable: friendship, counsel, compassion, jokes, but most of all love. His store became a fashion mecca of sorts for any connoisseur of fine, male haberdashery.
His clothing defined so much of my life for the past 20 years, whether it was for that unique Cup Match outfit, wedding outfit, New Year’s Eve or church outfit. No matter the event, you would find it at The Edge.
If you were a customer of his, Ronnie had the uncanny ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world and he was your personal shopper. Ronnie would learn your size, your style, your imperfections, and it was his job when you left his store, that you left satisfied. As a matter of fact, 60 per cent of the clothes that I have amassed over the years have come from Ronnie’s store.
He was also a master at communicating the needs of males to their significant others. Every Father’s Day or Christmas, my wife and daughters would go into Ronnie’s store and say, “What was Dwayne looking at in terms of clothing recently?” And he would give them a specific example of things that I would like to receive as a gift. That was just fashion.
Ronnie’s store became a watering hole during lunch breaks or after work for many men — and women, too. I would walk to his store, pop in and I would just talk about anything. Ronnie’s store was a safe space, a place where people could feel accepted and loved for who they were without judgment or apology.
He used his store and his business as a tool to build self-confidence, respect and tolerance in the people that he had access to. He was a profound amateur historian and travelled the world so he often brought global perspectives to conversations and people. And because of his diverse circle of friends, he created platforms for everyone to communicate, with love and respect as a foundation.
Many of our conversation centred on his family. He adored his mother and we often talked about the strength of our mothers and the role that they played into shaping us into the men that we were. He adored his daughters, Raven and Dacotah, and there was never a conversation where he did not talk about their accomplishments and who they were as young ladies.
From elementary to high school to college, he and I talked about our children, about how proud fathers we were. We discussed the differences of the personalities of our daughters. He told me how he looked forward to dinners where the girls would either cook for him or he would cook for them or they would go out to restaurants to eat. He truly lived his life so that his daughters would be proud of him and he would set a legacy that was centred on love and selflessness.
During one of the recent conversations that I had with Ronnie, he said that money did not mean very much to him. He said that all he wanted was for the people around him to be happy. He said: “I want my store to be self-sufficient so that it can function without me. This would give me the ability to travel the world and help needy people.”
That was the spirit of the man named Ronnie. He wanted everyone to feel valued, loved and respected.
Ronnie’s legacy in fashion:
• Using fashion as a means to develop relationships, build self-esteem, to bridge gaps and establish friendships
• To promote and foster creativity, individuality and style
• To use his life as an example of humility and love, and to show his family and friends what you can accomplish with your God-given gifts to make an impact and a difference in the lives of the people around you
Rest in peace, my brother. Rest in peace.
• Dwayne Caines is the press officer for the Bermuda Police Service, twin brother of Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, and a lifelong friend of the late Ronnie Baksh
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