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‘A great soldier has fallen’ – tributes to a former headteacher

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Livingston Tuzo, a veteran school principal, dies aged 71 (Photograph supplied)

A former head teacher who also led the Bermuda Association of School Principals was a skilled mediator, colleagues said yesterday.

Livingston Tuzo’s teaching career spanned 34 years and he worked at the Gilbert Institute in Paget and Victor Scott Primary School in Pembroke before he served as principal of West End Primary School for 14 years.

Melvyn Bassett, a friend and former principal of Sandys Secondary Middle School, said: “A great soldier has fallen.

Livingston Tuzo (File photograph)

“He put out a lot of fires at the Association of School Principals – a gentle man but a powerful individual who was well respected by children, teachers and parents.”

Mr Tuzo was principal of Victor Scott in Pembroke for ten years before he took over the top job at West End.

He retired in 2010.

Dr Bassett said Mr Tuzo was a first class leader of the principals’ group.

He added: “He was wheelchair bound for the last ten years after he had a major stroke, but his mind was great.

“He was consulted by principals and continued making contributions to education after retirement.

“He was a good family man who was married to Shirley for 40-plus years, and the father of two sons, Shannon and Shaun.”

Freddie Evans, a former Commissioner of Education, called him “the epitome of a modern day renaissance man”.

Known to many as Livy, he was a “husband, father, son, teacher, principal, mentor, leader, community man, sportsman, music lover, author and even thought of himself as a gourmet chef”, Mr Evans said.

He said he relied on Mr Tuzo and Dr Bassett’s support to introduce curriculum changes during his tenure as principal of the Whitney Institute.

Mr Evans, who succeeded Mr Tuzo as president of the ASP, attributed his success to “following in Tuzo’s footsteps and standing on his shoulders”.

Mr Tuzo was liked for his ability to “dispassionately speak truth to power”.

Mr Evans added: “It didn’t matter who was across the table: politicians, ministry officials, or irate parents. Livingston would say what had to be said without hesitation or anger. No matter the tenseness of the situation he stayed cool as the other side of the pillow.”

He said he only saw Mr Tuzo lose his temper once, when he upbraided a “brash young neophyte director”.

Fortunately, the meeting was being held in a church hall.

Mr Evans said his friend “loved all his students”, with a patient manner with young people others might consider badly behaved.

“Livingston Tuzo was dedicated to the success of the Bermuda public education system.

“Throughout his career, he promoted the efforts of his teachers and in doing so empowered and inspired his teachers to consistently go above and beyond for their students while challenging the naysayers who denigrate the efforts of the teachers in the public school system.”

A voracious reader, Mr Tuzo enjoyed discussing sport, and Mr Evans said he was “amazed” at his output of award-winning Christmas stories to the Gazette.

Mr Evans added: “Livingston Tuzo, a community leader, an educator, husband, father and a consummate professional touched a multitude of lives in Bermuda.

“I am sure just like me they are all better off for knowing this man.

“Livingston, may you rest in peace with the assurance of a life well lived and the gratitude of many that you taught, coached, mentored and helped.”

Mike Charles, the general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers said he taught at Paget Primary School at the same time Mr Tuzo taught physical education at the nearby Gilbert Institute.

Mr Charles said: “We had some battles with our football and cricket teams. We had a long friendship – he was someone I held in great esteem.

“In his dealings with the union and principals, he was always somebody you could depend on to be reasonable and mild mannered, which is why we had good times together.

“He was someone who could reason things out when there were differences between the union and principals.”

Mr Tuzo’s love of sport was shown when he wrote to The Royal Gazette in 2008 about what he saw as a drop in standards of behaviour in sport.

He was also an advocate for disciplined coaching and campaigned for fathers to build strong relationships with their children.

He wrote in the Gazette in 2007: “This is not rocket science, gentlemen, but just good old-fashioned common sense, laced with a strong dose of love for and about your child.”

⋅ Livingston James Ross Tuzo, a former principal at West End Primary School and president of the Bermuda Principals Association, was born on March 15, 1950. He died in August 2021, aged 71.

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Published August 10, 2021 at 3:15 pm (Updated August 10, 2021 at 3:15 pm)

‘A great soldier has fallen’ – tributes to a former headteacher

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