A tribute to Kit, my friend and adviser
It is my honour to compose a few words in memory of my mentor and friend J.C. “Kit” Astwood, OBE, who died last week aged 87.
I had the pleasure of working with Kit when I was employed by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce.
Like most people when they land their first big job, it was a time in my life when I was bursting with ideas, but a little wanting in the area of business application, and Kit provided both his time and guidance as I laboured to find my path.
Never one to judge, Kit made time for anyone in the public or private sector that he saw had potential and over the years many young Bermudians trod the narrow stairs to his second-floor office on Front Street to have their business ideas critiqued.
With a sharp mind and gentle demeanour not common among his peers, he had the ability to make you want to stretch your own mind to measure up without ever feeling that you were beneath him.
I still recall a pivotal conversation that we had which has had a lasting impact on me to this day. We were debating an encounter with a difficult person that had not gone the way we needed it to.
When asked what I thought we should do, I blurted out something rash and a tad vengeful, and then instantly regretted it as he looked at me in silence.
Sensing my error, I stammered: “Now I don’t know if you are proud of me, or ashamed of me!”
He smiled quietly and replied: “That’s what these conversations are for.”
That was Kit Astwood — guide as necessary, but never interfere with an opportunity for you to learn for yourself. And that was the moment that I realised just how fortunate I was to have made his acquaintance.
In the time that I worked with Kit there were also many humorous moments, not the least of which was the Monday morning when he seemed to be in discomfort as he settled himself into his chair.
When I inquired whether he was all right, he chuckled and confessed that yes he was fine, but being well past the age of sixty perhaps it had not been the wisest idea to go cliff jumping on the weekend with his fourteen-year-old son at Diving Board Island. But the grin on his face told a different story, his inner child was alive and well and would most likely do it again given half a chance.
Among his many public accomplishments, Kit was a Member of Parliament from 1968 to 1980, president of the Chamber of Commerce from 1968 to 1969, played a role in the revitalisation of the Dockyard and was honoured by the Institute of Directors for 50 years of active service.
An entrepreneur and statesman to the core, Kit Astwood was admired by all who knew him, and I count myself lucky to say that I did. He will be missed, but the wisdom that he shared will not be forgotten.
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at www.olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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