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And grand celebration of Marjorie’s life

Mrs Marjorie Grant was better than her characteristic best a week ago, calm, cool and collected.

After all it was the 90th birthday of this quick-witted retired City of Hamilton cosmetologist, and still active leader in the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. We suspect the toughest part for Marjorie was yielding to her daughters Sonia and Michelle, who are outstanding achievers in their own right.

They left no stone unturned, ensuring this milestone would be grand. And grand it was at the Cathedral Hall.

Sonia is a lawyer by profession. She has already made an indelible mark having been the first ever woman elected to the centuries old Council of the Corporation of Hamilton. She broke in one swoop, the deep-seated gender and racial grip of the hoary old Forty Thieves and Front Street merchants who for generations were bent on making the City Council their personal enclave.

Sonia just over a year ago retired from the Corporation, after a 13 year tenure that saw her acting from time to time as the city's Right Worshipful Mayor.

Michelle meanwhile went into retirement three months ago after serving more than two decades as Principal of the Berkeley Institute, Bermuda's senior secondary school. She's the wife of the Rev Dr Erskine Simmons, a widely travelled AME clergyman

Marjorie was once described as a ‘solidifing influence'. It was because of the no nonsense personality she developed ‘back in the day.' That was long before the advent of talk radio, instant newspaper and other media blogging. In that era much of the political change in Bermuda like elsewhere, was known to have been solidified in local barber shops and hairdressing parlours.

Marjorie trained as a cosmetologist in New York City. She seized the first opportunity to travel there at the end of the 1939-45 War. She qualified at a Madame Walker Institute and was privileged to have met the Madame Walker, who as the precursor of Oprah Winfrey so far as wealth and influence among black women and others, world wide was concerned.

A younger sister Dorothy, joined Marjorie at Madame Walker's. The girls had inherited the strong work ethics and drive of their grandmother, Miriam Agusta Burnham. The latter was one of the natives of St. Kitts who migrated to Bermuda at the turn of the 19th century taking advantage of opportunities flowing from the modernising of the old Bermuda Dockyard.

The parlour of the Durham sisters was strategically situated in Miriam's homestead at the eastern end of Church Street, which is still family owned. Patrons from both ends of the island took advantage of its convenient access.

Their home and business was just two or three blocks away east of the Hamilton's Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. St Paul AME Church, that has become known as the Cathedral of African Methodism in Bermuda, was just around the corner. The Durham girls became committed Anglicans. Marjorie still sings alto, in the Cathedral choir. She became treasurer of the Guild of the Good Shepherd. As secretary of the Cathedral Branch of the International Mothers Union Marjorie was sent to Australia in 1977 representing Bermuda at a Diocesan Mothers Union Conference.

Marjorie's retirement home is now at Loyal Hill, Devonshire. She became the wife of master carpenter and building contractor Philip Grant. He too was a committed Anglican when he died after 36 years of marriage, Philip was serving with distinction as the Bishop's Warden at the Cathedral. Many years before he was the People's Warden on the Cathedral Vestry. Meanwhile the daughters of Philip Grant, Sonia and Michelle have sustained the legacy of the Grants and Durhams at the Cathedral.

Sonia is the Cathedral Vestry Clerk. and a year ago at the Vestry's Annual General Meeting, sister Michelle for the very first time became an elected Vestry member.

Grand event: Madame Marjorie Grant is flanked above by daughters Sonia and Michell at the big Tea Party they laid on celebrating their mother's 90th birthday. On the left is the recently elected Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, Rt. Rev. Dill. --photo by Ira Philip

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Published September 27, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm)

And grand celebration of Marjorie’s life

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