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Connie Dey (1933-2023): actor with a love of history

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Ruth Constance “Connie” Dey

A devoted actor and mainstay of the Bermuda National Trust brought her love of St George’s history to life in her walking tours of the Old Town.

Connie Dey joined the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society in 1959 and introduced cultural tourism to the trust not long after its inception in 1970.

Ms Dey’s awards included recognition in the 2013 VIP Excellence Awards for her service to the island’s hospitality industry and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bermuda Arts Council in 2010.

However, theatre was her first love and she was familiar to Bermudians of all ages for her roles in stage productions and radio ads.

Ms Dey was a lifetime member of the BMDS and a regular in plays and Christmas pantomimes.

Carol Birch, a playwright and director with the BMDS, said she was “always an amazing person and someone I looked up to”.

“Many years ago, it was fashion shows that many of us remember fondly. Her heart also lay in the theatre and she graced those boards, many, many times for BMDS.”

Ms Birch added that she “loved working with Connie — she was always such a joy to be around”.

“Every year for panto, I was thrilled when she came to auditions, as I knew whatever part I gave her, she would make it her own.

“In later years, she asked me only to give her cameo parts, but no matter how small the role, and especially as the tourist guide in The Firebird, she had everyone rolling in the aisles at her comic antics.”

Ruth Constance “Connie” Dey (File photograph)

Ms Dey called herself a “compulsive joiner and volunteer” in an interview with The Royal Gazette in a 2010. “The bottom line is, if the audience leaves the theatre happy, then I'm happy.”

Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, Ms Dey landed a job as a commercial copy writer at a Boston radio station, WORL.

She met her late husband, Joseph Dey, another theatre lover, while holidaying on the classic liner Queen of Bermuda, which took the couple to Bermuda.

Her husband served as housing officer at Kindley Air Force Base and the couple had two sons, Russell and David.

Ruth Constance “Connie” Dey (File photograph)

Ms Dey moved to the island in 1956 and joined the cast of the Kindley Air Theatre, which broadcast live theatre.

She was approached by the Department of Tourism for preparations to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Bermuda's colonisation.

Other work for the department included organising special events such as the Rendezvous Season crafts fair, College Weeks and helping to set up tours.

Her radio experience came into play when Trimingham’s department store took her on to write broadcast advertisements

As Bermuda's Special Interest Group co-ordinator, she highlighted the island’s cultural and historical sights.

Ms Dey began volunteering with the Bermuda National Trust in the early 1970s, handling its public relations before helping launch the charity’s cultural tourism.

Her walking tour of St George’s proved a hit with visitors.

Connie Dey on stage with Stephen Notman in the 2006 BMDS Christmas panto “Ali-Baba and the 14 Thieves” (File photograph)

She retired as the tourism department’s cultural tourism officer in 2003 — the same year she officially retired from the BNT after getting a long-service award.

Ms Dey stayed on with the trust as a volunteer. “I like to support everything I can,” she told the Gazette.

“The trouble is, I would like to volunteer for so many more organisations, but there simply aren't enough hours in the day.”

Ms Dey’s list of charities was extensive: she was a lifetime member of the St George's Historical Society; the Bermuda Audubon Society; Seniors Learning Centre — which became the Lifelong Learning Centre; Age Concern; and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She served as a trustee for the Bermuda Endowment for the Arts and was a chairwoman of the National Dance Theatre of Bermuda, remaining on the board of its successor, the National Dance Foundation of Bermuda.

Ms Birch and the BMDS offered condolences to Ms Dey’s family and friends.

Ms Birch added: “You are going to be missed, Connie, and my pantos won’t be the same without you.”

Ms Dey is survived by her sons Russell and David; her younger brother, Donald Taylor, who lives in Kentucky with his wife, Linda, and son Eric; David Dey's former wife, Lynne Underhill, and their son, Jacob; and his current wife Lauri Dey and their daughters Kate and Hannah.

• Ruth Constance Dey, an actor and long-serving member of the Bermuda National Trust, was born on May 11, 1933. She died on September 12, 2023, aged 90

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Published September 18, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated September 18, 2023 at 7:41 am)

Connie Dey (1933-2023): actor with a love of history

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