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Honouring ‘master conductor’ Frederick Wade

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A packed Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters paid tribute to the life and legacy of former Progressive Labour Party leader, Frederick Wade, last night.

More than 200 people joined members of Mr Wade's family at the memorial event to mark 20 years since the PLP stalwart died suddenly in August 1996 at the age of 57.

Former PLP Premiers Alex Scott, Ewart Brown, Dame Jennifer Smith and Paula Cox led the tributes to Mr Wade, who was Opposition Leader for 11 years and an MP in the House of Assembly for 28 years.

Mr Scott hailed Mr Wade's loyalty to the party and his political astuteness during a poignant speech and thanked his family in the audience for supporting Mr Wade in all he did.

“He could not have done it without his family being with him, behind him and, more importantly, beside him,” he said.

Mr Scott and Mr Wade both graduated from Berkeley Institute in the class of 1956/7 and Mr Scott spoke of his friend's “quiet leadership and organisational genius” as a young man.

“Fred was a ‘can do' person and a PLP architect of change tackling challenges inside the party and changes on the outside,” Mr Scott said.

“He literally gave his life to the party and his country. He stayed close to the party's labour roots, he made the rounds of the back of town always staying in touch with the people, and constantly worked to keep his party together.

“His political astuteness knew no bounds and he feared no man. To my knowledge Freddie Wade was only wrong about one thing. He was heard often to say that people would say “Freddie who” when he moved on. No my friend, how wrong you were.

“You did good boy and people will remember the name Leonard Frederick Wade down the ages.”

Mr Wade, who initially trained as a teacher and later qualified as a lawyer, was first elected to Parliament in 1968 under the new Constitution and two-party system.

He went on to serve the PLP over three decades becoming the party's leader in November 1985. He died on August 13, 1996, two years before the PLP's first victory at the polls.

Dr Brown commended Mr Wade for his leadership and strength under pressure describing him as a “master conductor”.

“Freddie was very clear, he let me know early in the game, that I was coming to an organisation whose history and culture I had to respect,” he said. “The institution was larger than him and larger than me.

“He had great strength under pressure. No matter what happened in terms of internal politics Freddie Wade remained a leader in stature and in fact. I admired that.

“He was also very good at tolerating dissent. He taught me and others not only is there room for dissent, but dissent strengthens an organisation and leadership does not tolerate it, it manages it. Another thing was his ability to team build. It takes leadership to recognise the differences in the room and the skill to take the jangling discords and turn it into an orchestra.”

Dame Jennifer hailed the sacrifice Mr Wade made for his country.

“It has been 20 years that he has been gone from our sight, but not from our mind,” she said.

“He had a plan and was very strategic.

“He also believed there was always a third way. He was totally political. He was always thinking politically.”

Former PLP minister and MP Dale Butler added: “Preparing leaders was part of Freddie Wade's legacy. He brought in more and more new faces.

“If he were here today he would question why we don't remind people of the party's accomplishments. The list is very long.

“Freddie was part of the team and his legacy is dedicated to the working class and meeting their needs.”

Never to be forgotten: holding a picture of Frederick Wade are, from left, his daughter Michelle Wade Johnson, wife Ianthia Wade, and daughter Kamela Wade (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Hugely respected: Frederick Wade
Paying tribute: more than 200 people attended the Frederick Wade Forum (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published August 26, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm)

Honouring ‘master conductor’ Frederick Wade

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