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Raynor’s celebrates 60 years in business

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Sixty years in business: Reginald Raynor Jr, of Raynor’s Service Station, which celebrates a big anniversary tomorrow (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Raynor’s Rubis Service Station, whose founder won a legal battle to open it in an era of segregation, celebrates its 60th anniversary on Saturday.

November 10, 1958 was the day Reginald Raynor Sr and wife Lucetta Raynor launched the business, located at 222 Middle Road, Southampton.

As the family enterprise prepares to celebrate its longevity, Reginald Raynor Jr, the current owner and son of the founder, said that the journey had not been easy.

“Back in those days Bermuda had a lot of segregation,” he said. “You did not see black people owning businesses. I was 4 years old at the time.

“My father applied to the Government for the right to open the station and after that white owners applied to open one nearby.

“My father was then denied because Government said they did not want two gas stations near each other, but the white owner applied after my father, so he knew what he was fighting against.”

Shortly after being denied, Mr Raynor Sr decided to take his case to the Supreme Court and hired a lawyer from Guyana, Edward T. Richards.

“Mr Richards won my father’s case and we ended up getting the spot,” Mr Raynor Jr said. “They did not take away the permit from the other gas station owners and that’s the reason there were two stations so close to each other.”

Mr Richards went on to become the first black Premier of Bermuda. He was the leader of the United Bermuda Party between 1971 and 1973. He was a vocal critic of segregation.

Although they had challenges over the years, Mr Raynor Jr said his father’s foundation and good morals have impacted him and his family. “He always taught us to treat everyone, no matter their race, like your brothers and sisters.”

Because his parents are Christians and members of the Vernon Temple AME Church, they never have and will not sell cigarettes or alcohol at the gas station. “We have a saying here that ‘we want to do business with you for a long time and we don’t want you to die from cancer’,” Mr Raynor Jr said.

In 2013, Raynor’s received an award for being the number one gas station on island from Shell, before the station switched to Rubis.

Mr Raynor would also like to give credit to his brothers who have all been a part of the business since day one. “My brothers all were a great support, my father passed the business down to his five sons and I bought the shares from my other brothers and became sole owner in the year 2000,” he said.

The station was originally a one-level building. However, that changed after Mr Raynor Jr’s son had an accident that left him wheelchair-bound. “After my son had the accident, in 2006, we knocked down the building and made it into a two-storey one with an elevator that goes to the office where my son can keep himself busy.”

Mr Raynor paid tribute to his mother and wife Pamela, who had been a big support to the business, he said.

The official anniversary is tomorrow, when food and snacks will be available for both staff and customers from midday until everything is finished.

In the news: the new business, as it was showcased in The Royal Gazette 60 years ago (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Family affair: pictured, from left, are Pamela Melvina Raynor and brothers, Reginald Raynor Jr, the late Sheridan Raynor, the late Lloyd Raynor, the late Carl Raynor and Lee Raynor (Photograph supplied)