'Soldier for the common man’ David W Burch dies aged 75
A dogged independent electoral candidate, singer and activist hailed as a “soldier for the common man” has died at 75.
David W. Burch was honoured in 2015 by Atlantic Publishing House run by former minister Dale Butler, who called him “a strong-willed and determined fighter for justice”.
Mr Butler added: “His life story covers numerous rivers, mountains and valleys that stretched across racial and economic boundaries.”
A former footballer, Mr Burch likened himself to David against Goliath as he ran repeatedly without success in Warwick, starting with Warwick West in 1993.
He told The Royal Gazette in 2016: “I’ve always been an independent-minded person, and I can’t see party politics doing anything for this country.”
Mr Burch pushed for the legalisation of cannabis, and backed his family’s court struggle over land in Warwick that now includes the former Grand Atlantic development, which they maintained had been unjustly taken off them.
Mr Burch was a musician and singer who worked many years as a contractor, but threw his hat in the ring as an electoral candidate after moving home in 1992 from 15 years spent in the United States.
He performed and recorded as Papa D, and sang with 1960s groups including The Superiors.
Mr Burch founded The Rainbows, which performed island-wide and enjoyed chart success with the song “Rainy Days”.
His daughter Marsheen Burch called him “a go-better who believed in family and togetherness, a passionate man who stood for what he believed in”.
She added: “He knew how to relate to people. He was especially passionate about young people – he felt the youth in Bermuda needed help and were not getting enough.”
Ms Burch said her father had been a “daredevil” in insisting on his family’s right to a Warwick property where their title had become void.
Mr Burch was a mechanic with a flair for bodywork and spray painting, which helped to support him in later years.
The Bermuda Entertainment Union paid tribute yesterday to “a talented musician and outspoken activist”.
The BEU noted his return to the stage in 2010 at the Bermuda Music Festival in Dockyard, which featured the Quincy Jones Orchestra and Friends.
Mr Burch was a regular voice on talk radio as an advocate for independence.
The union statement added: “He walked his talk.”
The BEU said Mr Burch was survived by siblings Clifford Burch, Peggy Bean, Rudy Burch, John “JB” Burch from the popular Scooter Mart commercial, and Robert Seymour.
The union listed his children from oldest to youngest: Deadra Harvey, Marsheen Burch, and Terenay Burch, from his union with former wife Marva Brangman Burch.
Mr Burch also had children in the US: Lamont and Kareena Cleveland of New York City, and a stepson, Niahja Dixon Euwing, of Virginia.
The BEU added: “He is predeceased by his parents, Reginald and Etoile Burch and brothers Herman and Earlston Burch.
“We wish to extend our condolences to his entire family, friends and BEU family.”
⋅ David William Burch, an independent political candidate and singer, was born on August 27, 1945. He died in March 2021, aged 75.