Stanley Lowe (1938-2020)
Stanley Lowe, the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, has died. He was 82.
Mr Lowe was a Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton East for 44 years, after being elected as a member of the “Class of ’68” which marked the beginning of the modern political system.
He became Bermuda’s first black Speaker after the PLP recorded its historic first General Election victory in 1998. Mr Lowe was widely remembered yesterday for his fairness and firmness during his 14 years in that role before his retirement from politics in 2012.
David Burt, the Premier, described him as “a true man for all seasons and a firm but fair Speaker of the House”.
Mr Burt said: “When he ascended to the Speaker’s chair in 1998, his elevation complemented the change ushered in by that historic election.
“As the first black Speaker of the House of Assembly, Stanley Lowe presided with humour, wit and impartiality.
“Whether in the robe of his high office or in the latest carnival costume jumping with the [soca] band on Front Street, Bermuda will fondly remember a true man for all seasons.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I offer my sincere condolences to his family as they mourn his loss but rejoice in a life of service to his country.”
Mr Lowe was educated at Heron Bay School and the Berkeley Institute before earning a degree at Wilberforce University in Ohio.
He was a member of Southampton Rangers Sports Club from a young age, and a PLP spokeswoman said yesterday that he was fondly remembered for his contribution to the growth of the club. She said: “Through his contributions as a member and as a club trustee, the club is now seen as a pivotal component of social and civic life of the Southampton community.”
In 1968, after Bermuda’s first election under universal adult suffrage, Mr Lowe became a PLP MP alongside colleagues including Walter Roberts, Frederick Wade and Reginald Burrows.
However, the United Bermuda Party won by 30 seats to ten, triggering three decades of political dominance which consigned Mr Lowe to the Opposition benches. During that time he fought for the needs of the Southampton community.
The spokeswoman said: “He pledged to serve the underserved and disenfranchised of Bermuda.
“As a Bermudian born and bred in Southampton, he brought the wishes, hopes and desires of his community into the national spotlight.
“Stanley Lowe’s endless representations and comments during debate in the House of Assembly assured constituents of Southampton East their voices would be heard.”
He spent many years as PLP whip, before he was elected Deputy Speaker of the House in 1995, while the PLP was still in Opposition.
Three years later, the PLP recorded its historic election victory and Mr Lowe became Bermuda’s first black Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Randy Horton, who was mentored by Mr Lowe before succeeding him as Speaker after the 2012 General Election, said: “The greatest thing about Stanley was that he was a fair man. The most important thing about a Speaker is that you have got to be fair.
“Stanley was trusted by both sides of the House of Assembly for his fairness.”
Mr Horton, a PLP MP who served as Speaker under a One Bermuda Alliance government, said the position would often bring pressure from political colleagues behind the scenes.
But he said: “Stanley was a man who would look at the situation, weigh it up and then make a fair and firm decision.”
He noted Mr Lowe’s quiet demeanour, but recalled he once kicked high-profile UBP minister C.V. “Jim” Woolridge out of the House.
“He was tough as well,” Mr Horton said.
Ewart Brown, a PLP premier for four years while Mr Lowe was Speaker, described Mr Lowe as “a pacesetter and a standard bearer for all who followed him”.
Dr Brown said: “Stanley Lowe walked quietly but carried a big stick.
“When the PLP won the General Election in 1998, most of us in the caucus assumed the obvious, that Stanley Lowe would be our Speaker. He seemed a natural fit to receive the honour of becoming Bermuda’s first black Speaker of the House of Assembly.
“His quiet demeanour was what we all saw at first glance, but beneath that calm and steady surface was a man who accomplished the elusive combination of neutrality and political savvy.
“He was firm and fair, sensitive and sensible, reserved and respected.”
Alex Scott, another former PLP premier and a cousin of Mr Lowe, said: “He didn’t allow himself to become an impediment to us doing business, but when the moment arrived that required him to assert the authority of the Speaker’s office, he did so.”
Craig Cannonier, the leader of the OBA, said: “As Bermuda’s first black Speaker, he holds a special place in the island’s history.
“He was much respected and admired as a person as well as a trailblazing politician.
“He served this country very well, he served his constituents very well. He was an inspiration to many and he will be sorely missed.”
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