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Community shocked at death of PLP chairman

Respected figure: the late PLP party chairman Maynard Dill

Junior Maynard Dill, a devoted unionist and chairman of the Progressive Labour Party who was quietly charitable throughout the island, has died at the age of 61.

Mr Dill’s sudden passing on Saturday shocked the community on the eve of Labour Day — an occasion dear to Mr Dill’s heart.

“He was raised from childhood around the Bermuda Industrial Union; he also did a lot for seniors and children behind the scenes, just out of the goodness of his heart,” said his wife, Wilma.

A plant foreman for Belco, Mr Dill was dedicated to the mentoring of others. He was also a former president of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, which he helped to found, and presided over the Electricity Supply Trade Union for 12 years, remaining keenly involved in labour issues at the utility company.

Mr Dill, who took on the chairmanship after the Opposition’s electoral defeat in 2012, accepted a “daunting challenge”, according to a statement from party leader Marc Bean.

Noting Mr Dill’s commitment to a fairer Bermuda as well as a modernised PLP, Mr Bean said his tenure had been marked by “integrity and honour, upholding the tenets of the party and supporting the call for service with clean hands and a pure heart”.

Condolences were echoed by Michael Dunkley and Lynne Woolridge, the chairwoman of the One Bermuda Alliance, who hailed his legacy and passion for service.

David Burt, PLP MP for Mr Dill’s home constituency of Pembroke West Central, called it “an incredible loss, not just for the party but the community”.

“Like many who are the best, he gave without recognition — he just did it,” Mr Burt said, recalling Mr Dill’s special commitment to the students of West Pembroke and Northlands primary schools.”

As a chairman of that branch, Mr Dill steered events for young people and seniors, giving generously from his own pocket.

A person of “very strong convictions”, Mr Dill was also “incredibly hard working” within the party as a whole, Mr Burt said.

Leonard Grant, a fellow Belco foreman and friend who recently stepped down as treasurer of the ESTU, described Mr Dill as a man who held the labour cause in his heart. “It was in his blood; he always said how he had been raised a trade unionist.”

Eloquent, knowledgeable and a teacher and interpreter for others, Mr Dill had thrown himself into the ESTU in 1994, at a time of internal discontent.

Mr Grant said a radical change in union leadership was led by Mr Dill, who sometimes ended up in meetings with management “by himself, fighting for people who were not even in attendance”.

As well as stewarding the union’s services to his membership, Mr Dill was committed to educating members, explaining the details within documents, and teaching others to read the fine print.

“Maynard could interpret for people. He liked to say that the easiest way to hide something was to put it in writing.”

For the ESTU, “he said you didn’t always have to down your tools to get what you want; he was somebody who would talk and use reason”, Mr Grant said.

Mr Dill had family links to the BIU: his sister Helena “Molly” Burgess is the general secretary, and he spoke often of his relationships with luminaries such as past BIU president Ottiwell Simmons.

“He was instrumental in the formation of the BTUC, and continued to serve after he stepped down as president,” Mr Dill added.

“He would give you the shirt off his back if he could. My son calls him Uncle Maynard.

“He was that way with everyone.”