Lusher honoured 60 years to the day since her arrival in Bermuda
Real estate icon Joy Lusher came to the Island exactly 60 years ago today, with nothing but £60 in her pocket, and a suitcase in hand.
These days her company Joy Lusher Real Estate has become synonymous with the sale of Bermuda’s finest homes; and Mrs Lusher has affectionately become known as the ‘Queen of Bermuda Real Estate’.
Her contributions to the Island go beyond what she has done in the business realm, and also include decades of voluntary service with the Hamilton Rotary Club, Age Concern and Senior’s Learning Centre.
Mrs Lusher, age 82, will be honoured today by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, with an award in recognition of her service to the Island’s seniors.
Janice Trott, the former executive director of the Senior’s Learning Centre, said she has been an instrumental part of the organisation for almost 20 years.
“The exciting thing that Joy has been doing lately is heading a travel club, in conjunction with C-Travel, and she has taken seniors on cruises at least once a year and they really look forward to it and appreciate her.
“She gives a lot of time, effort and a lot of thought to what she does at the Senior’s Learning Centre and she is quite a delightful person to work with on the executive.”
When Ms Trott fell ill and needed to travel overseas for treatment at Lahey Clinic in Boston, Mrs Lusher stepped up to the plate to run the centre for nearly two months.
The successful realtor has also hosted fundraising events at her private home in Point Shares, to raise money for the travel club, as well as charities like Friends of Hospice and Hamilton Rotary.
Born in Southampton, England in 1931, Mrs Lusher started off her career as a secretary in her teenage years, before quickly transitioning into real estate — renting office space, shops and showrooms to clients in the West End of London.
She was briefly engaged to a Canadian officer at age 21, but realised the relationship wasn’t all that she wanted, so she set sail to North America to break it off and return the ring.
En route to Canada, she met some Bermudians on board the ship and was encouraged to consider moving to the 21-square-mile Island, instead.
She worked as a secretary in Canada, just long enough to pay for her one-way airline ticket to Bermuda.
After arriving to the Island, she started work as a secretary by day; and as a sales clerk at Calypso’s in the Hamilton Princess Hotel, by night.
Mrs Lusher later married and had three children Liz, Sue and Nick. During these years she was hired by Bermuda Realty, where she surprised her boss by making a sale in her first week.
She eventually branched out on her own in 1966, establishing Joy Lusher Real Estate.
Long-time friend Bill Cook described her accomplishments in business as “remarkable”.
He said: “Over the years, she really has become one of the icons of Bermuda real estate, dealing with the top calibre of clients like Robert Stigwood, the manager of the Bee Gees, and one of the biggest names in show business.
“Bit by bit, she established recognition for integrity in real estate and moved rapidly up.
“Not everyone has the ability to meet with international people at that level, and she became personal friends with these people, because of her personality, her great energy and enthusiasm.”
The company is currently run by her daughter Sue Lusher; while her granddaughter Christie Plathe, 25, is planning to sit her real estate exam and join the firm.
“This will make three generations of our family in real estate,” Ms Lusher said.
She described her mother as “a woman with a proud and benevolent spirit” and said her positive attitude and friendly smile can literally light up a room.
“Despite continuing to live a full, active and successful life, [mom] finds the most pleasure in the simple things,” she said.
“[This includes] spending time with her children and grandchildren, entertaining friends, travelling, and enjoying her home and beautiful gardens with her two much-loved cats, both rescued by mom when they turned up in her garden and decided to call it home.
“She greets every day with enthusiasm and optimism, always approaching life with a positive attitude, accepting and meeting each challenge with her inimitable poise and grace, grateful for a life well lived.”
Realtor Hope Bowker, a long-time friend and colleague, said she has always held Mrs Lusher in high esteem.
“We have seen such a tremendous change in real estate over the years, but I felt Joy was always very fair and honourable in her profession,” she said.
“We got along very well and have been friends ever since she arrived to the Island, and still are friends.”
Sir John Swan said he watched in the early years as Mrs Lusher found a niche market in real estate, and always admired her.
“My career very much parallels that of Joy Lusher in that she started her business around the same time as I started JW Swan Ltd in 1962,” he said.
“Joy became pronounced very early in her career; she was dealing with an exclusive market and she became number one in dealing with a very select clientele, which was not the same area as mine, but she was always very co-operative in assisting and helping me find information on real estate.”
He described her as being always polite and generous with her thoughts and said they have maintained a close relationship, which has enhanced his life and hopefully hers as well.
“I must congratulate Joy in celebrating her 60 years in Bermuda as I celebrate my 50 years in business,” Sir John added.