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Tributes paid to veteran civil servants who died this month

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Joseph Christopher. former Commissioner of Education (File photograph)
Kenneth Richardson with Brenda, his wife (File photograph)

Two veterans of the civil service who died this month were yesterday honoured by the Bermuda Public Services Union.

Joseph Christopher, 77, was a former Commissioner of Education and education historian, and Kenneth Richardson, a former Cabinet Secretary, was 82.

Edward Ball, a BPSU consultant, said Dr Christopher had a thirst for knowledge.

He added Dr Christopher’s “scientific orientation led him to be the first Black Bermudian male to attain a PhD in physics”.

Mr Ball said: “He also had the foresight to obtain a post graduate certificate of Education from London University shortly after completing his PhD.”

He added he remembered Dr Christopher as a student teacher at the Berkeley Institute, as a physics teacher at the Sixth Form Centre and as principal at Sandys Secondary School before he became the top education official.

Mr Ball said: “Dr Christopher’s legacy influenced many young Bermudians, which includes how he addressed racism denying some high school students tertiary education.

“It was fashionable for a few white educators at the Sixth Form Centre to dissuade students, in particular Black males who did not attend Bermuda’s five acclaimed high schools, from pursuing academic courses by encouraging them to enrol in technical courses.”

Mr Ball said: “Dr Christopher addressed the blatant racist practices, then encouraged and assisted those male students to obtain their tertiary education overseas and continued to monitor and assist them with their career and employment when they returned to Bermuda.”

John Payne, a former BPSU president, said Dr Christopher’s commitment to labour had been less well-known.

He added he was a past president of the Bermuda Teacher’s Union and contributed to the Superannuation Act 1981, the legislation on pensions for public sector employees.

Mr Richardson was remembered for his even-handed treatment of industrial disputes.

Mr Ball said Mr Richardson was “a man of few equals” who shaped the lives of many.

He added he was a skilled footballer and played from the formation of Devonshire Colts by Howard Academy’s school principal, Edward de Jean.

Mr Ball said: “He and his team-mates from Howard Academy, the Berkeley Institute and St George’s Secondary School were formidable football opponents and league champions.”

Mr Richardson was as a mentor for students at Sandys Secondary School, along with other Black male teachers James Parris, Walter Stevens and Donald Dane.

Mr Richardson worked as Permanent Secretary of Immigration and Labour, as well as Cabinet Secretary.

Ottiwell Simmons, a former Bermuda Industrial Union president, said Mr Richardson as PS had been a fair, kindhearted industrial relations “fixer” in disputes between the BIU and employers.

Mr Payne said Mr Richardson’s involvement proved valuable during “the tumultuous period of the late 70s and early 80s”.

He added: “As the Labour Relations Officer along with Ted Bassett, both men provided a calming influence and objectivity to mediation.”

Mr Payne said Mr Richardson was “a voice of reason” during his time as Cabinet Secretary and after he left the civil service.

The BPSU gave condolences to both families.

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Published March 16, 2021 at 8:17 am (Updated March 16, 2021 at 8:17 am)

Tributes paid to veteran civil servants who died this month

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