Friends celebrating life of amazing Walton’
Tributes to the late Walton Brown included heartfelt reflections from friends and schoolmates.
Michelle Simmons, an independent senator, recalled teaching Mr Brown chemistry at the Berkeley Institute.
“Walton struck me as a highly intelligent young man who loved to debate just about anything, with a twinkle in his eye and a bit of mischief as well,” she told the House of Assembly.
She said Mr Brown initially planned to study economics at university and get a law degree, but “the lure of political science and everything associated with it was too great for him to ignore”.
Ms Simmons said her sister, Sonia Grant, also taught Mr Brown, while fellow teacher Robert Horton described him as one of the school’s favourite sons on his final report card, and predicted he was “simply destined for a magnificent future”.
Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, recalled Mr Brown as a schoolmate first.
Ms Foggo said: “In fact, the class of 1977 can brag a piece of history, because I think it’s the only time in history that three graduating members of that class, Walton Brown, Michael Weeks and myself, not only sat in Parliament together, but sat in Cabinet together.”
Mr Weeks, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, called the session devoted to tributes “a sombre and surreal” occasion.
He recalled Mr Brown’s support for gay rights, telling the House that after he had spoken over his misgivings on the Bermuda Pride march, Mr Brown had told him: “Good speech. But I support the parade.”
Mr Brown’s close friendship with Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, was noted by several MPs, including deputy OBA leader Leah Scott, who said her first reaction on hearing the news was: “Where’s Kim?”
Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert said he would often spend time with Mr Brown and Ms Wilson.
He joked: “They would drink wine and they drink wine and they drink wine. I drink Perrier with Rose’s lime. And then they split the bill three ways.
“That’s why they are good economists.”
Mr Furbert said the three were supposed to travel to New York last weekend, but the trip was cancelled after Mr Furbert’s wife was unable to attend.
National security minister Wayne Caines said that when the Cabinet learnt of Mr Brown’s death there was “shock — there were cries, there were screams”.
Mr Caines said: “We sat there consoling each other. It hit me that we are family. We sat in the room grieving the loss of our brother.
“Our beloved Walton is the sixth PLP Member of Parliament to die while in the service of the people of Bermuda since 1998.”
An emotional Ben Smith, the shadow minister of sports and social development, spoke of his 15-year friendship with Mr Brown.
Mr Smith told the House: “Our differences are what makes Bermuda strong. We have to accept that, and communicate with each other with respect. That’s what Walton did.
“I am going to miss my friend, but I will always remember him. I will live to live up to what he taught me.”
PLP backbencher Michael Scott spoke of Mr Brown’s passion to find justice for black families who suffered as a result of land grabs.
Mr Scott praised the “politician, professor, pollster and progressive” who was “a prophet for Bermuda independence”, as well as father to three sons: Taryq, Jarrod and Dominique.
Scott Simmons, of the PLP, said Mr Brown had “taught me much”. Mr Simmons added: “He traversed all sides in the House, all sides in Bermuda. He took the time to not understand his own experience, but to take the time out to understand the experiences of others throughout our community.”
Renée Ming, of the PLP, said she first met Mr Brown at a family picnic at Clearwater. She said that she had considered wearing a black dress for yesterday’s session, but instead chose a bright red, white and orange dress.
“We are not mourning at this time. We are celebrating the life of a person who was amazing,” she said.
“Walton was really not a black-dress person. He was as colourful as you can get.”
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