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Remembering a marriage of 70 years

Cedric Tweed, who had been married to the late Cornelia Tweed for 70 years, with his children and extended family on the steps of his home. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The passing of Cornelia Tweed, a mother figure to many in her community, marks a deep loss to her husband Cedric.

Ms Tweed, who had recently turned 89 when she died on the morning of January 20, had been married to him for 70 years.

Mr Tweed, once Bermuda’s longest-serving soldier, recalled yesterday how he had courted the woman he first knew as a fellow student at Central School, today known as Victor Scott Primary.

He was so nervous when he went to knock on the front door at her family homestead that he couldn’t say his name: “I stuttered on ‘Cedric’; I could not say it,” Mr Tweed said. “So I said ‘Ralph’.”

With that, Mr Tweed, now 90 years old, acquired a nickname that would recur throughout his 52 years of military service: “Uncle Ralph”.

He joined the Bermuda Militia Artillery in 1951 and went through 39 boot camps before retiring from the Bermuda Regiment in 2003.

The brother of civil rights leader Reverend Kingsley Tweed, Mr Tweed got his military leanings from his father, John, who came to the Island from St Kitts to work at the Dockyard.

“He was strict; he taught us to work hard and how to behave. Him and my mother both, two good people,” Mr Tweed said.

Bermuda as a whole was strict in those days, including their school. Mr Tweed recalled walking home with his future bride, who would take the turn homeward at Tills Hill.

Kelly Tweed, the youngest of the couple’s ten children, said her father had set his heart on Cornelia after spotting her from his father’s horse and carriage, used for selling ice.

Hailing from the Durham family who lived on Dundonald Street, Mrs Tweed excelled at baking and would sometimes whip up a cake for young guests while her family was out.

The couple married in 1945 when she was 18 and Mr Tweed was 20. Ten children followed: David, Cornelia, Allan, Robert, Peter — who died as a baby — Deborah, Penelope, Bonnie-Jean, Kimberley and Kelly.

Kelly called her “the love of his life”, with Kimberley Tweed telling The Royal Gazette: “She was very motherly, a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. She was there any time you needed her. She is going to be a great miss.”

Mr Tweed never left her side while she was cared for at home, she added, and when she was taken to the hospital while ill, the family cared for her there with “everybody talking and laughing”.

Reverend Nicholas Tweed recalled his aunt as a beloved figure in the community.

“I understand her to have been a very kind and generous person who always had a place at her table,” he said. “She was a wonderful person. Her home was always a home for many of the children in the neighbourhood.”

Her funeral will be held at 2pm tomorrow in St Paul’s Anglican Church, Paget.