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Bermuda Olympian Harper dies at age of 74

Friends and family are mourning the death of former Bermuda resident and Olympian Anthony Harper.

Born in Malaysia to British parents in 1938, Mr Harper joined the Bermuda Police Service in 1960 but would later turn to teaching — first serving as a Physical Education teacher at Warwick Academy and then at Cedar Grove School — all the while developing a stellar career as an amateur athlete at the highest levels.

Richard Hall, who taught at Warwick Academy with Mr Harper, remembers him as modest and unassuming. He had left the Police Service, and went to England to train as a teacher before returning to Bermuda.

“Tony competed in the 1968 Olympics — you could know Tony for 20 years and wouldn’t know that,” Mr Hall said. “He would never dream of telling anyone that, he’d be so embarrassed. He was beyond humble.”

Mr Harper did in fact represent Bermuda in the 1968 Games, held in Mexico City, in the 400 metres. He also represented Bermuda in the 400 metres hurdles at the Commonwealth Games.

“Even for a PE teacher, he never raised his voice,” Mr Hall added. “He was Tony and he was held in high regard by everybody. He was universally liked — one of those people you couldn’t help but like.”

Gabe Rodrigues, who was also a colleague of Mr Harper at Warwick Academy, described him as “a typical English gentleman, very considerate of others”.

Roger Sherratt and Jeff Payne both served with Mr Harper while with the Bermuda Police.

“He was very quiet, a really exceptionally nice person” who was committed to his pursuit of athletics, said Mr Sherratt.

Mr Payne shared Mr Harper’s love of running and they competed together on local meets.

“He was sort of a shy person, and he took his running seriously so he didn’t socialise as far as drinking goes. He kept his body clean,” said Mr Payne.

Besides hurdles and running, Mr Harper loved to read poetry, Mr Payne recalled.

Mr Harper left Bermuda to continue teaching in Surrey, England. Upon retirement he spent time in Portugal painting and eventually settled in Somerset.

He died on April 17 after an extended illness, leaving his wife Angela and two children Iain and Michael.

WF (Chummy) Hayward leads the Bermuda team in Mexico City in 1968.

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Published April 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm)

Bermuda Olympian Harper dies at age of 74

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