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Far-sighted bank founder dies at 101

A “visionary” carpenter who became a driving force for the creation of Bermuda’s first black-owned bank has died.

Walter Seymour was 101.

Mr Seymour was among the founder members of the Bermuda Provident Bank in 1969.

Sir John Swan, a former Premier and the island’s elder statesman, said Mr Seymour was someone who “always talked about the interests of Bermuda – he was a proponent of peace and change, never antagonistic”.

Sir John added: “Mr Seymour was trying to fulfil the desires and wishes of Black people.

“There was a feeling of a need for Black banks to be formed.”

The Bermuda Provident Bank, which later became the Bermuda Commercial Bank, was founded by a group of entrepreneurs, many of them members of Vernon Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Southampton.

Mr Seymour, also closely involved in the church, was one of the main campaigners for the bank.

Sir John said Mr Seymour’s friend, the late Arnold Francis, became the bank’s first chairman.

He added: “Mr Seymour was very decent, respectful and competent.

“His enthusiasm alone was a big carrying factor in helping to get people involved with the bank.

“Two formed around that time – the other was the Bermuda National Bank.”

Both banks were later bought out.

Sir John added Mr Seymour had assisted him with his home building business.

Michael Collier, a former chairman of the Bermuda Commercial Bank, said Mr Seymour was a “colourful personality, a real gentleman”.

He added: “He was deeply concerned and interested in the community and people, regardless of their background.

“I was at BCM from 2010 to 2014, when I retired as chairman, and Walter was very interested in the bank and the staff.

“He had that personal, caring touch – he was polite as could be and always dressed very smartly.”

⋅ Walter James Seymour, one of the founders of the Bermuda Provident Bank, was born on August 6, 1919. He died in May 2021. Mr Seymour was 101.

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Published May 20, 2021 at 8:10 am (Updated May 20, 2021 at 8:10 am)

Far-sighted bank founder dies at 101

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