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George Donald Scott (1932-2023): A trailblazer who put his stamp on society

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George Anthony Scott, with son George Donald Scott, left, and grandson Georg Antony Scott

A senior supervisor in the Bermuda Post Office was among a “special class” of Black staff there who persevered through the entrenched discrimination of the day.

George Donald Scott, who retired from the post office in 1988 after 40 years’ service, started as a janitor and broke barriers on his way up through the ranks.

His family was also high-profile in Bermuda’s civil and public service.

Valerie Scott, his first wife, was a 13-year Registrar-General who helped modernise the registration procedure. She died in 1987.

Donald Montgomery Scott, his son, is a former financial secretary and permanent secretary in health before serving as Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of Civil Service until 2013.

George Anthony Scott, another son, is a former Progressive Labour Party MP who served on the executive of the Bermuda Industrial Union and is now a councillor on the Corporation of Hamilton.

His daughter Charlene is former Registrar to the Supreme Court.

George Donald Scott (Photograph supplied)

Mr Scott’s career was recalled by Gary Phillips, who became the first Black Bermudian to be appointed Postmaster General in 1982.

He said Mr Scott was among a circle of staff such as Phyllis Basden, Oriel Fraser and Frances Lister who “opened doors” for the postal staff who followed them.

“I would say George Scott had a limitless ability to dream,” Mr Phillips said. “He never felt that the boundaries of entrepreneurship and ideas were limited. There was a better way of doing something.

“Sometimes his ideas were used by others and sometimes frustrated – but he always saw a new way. He could analyse a problem and come up with a solution not seen before.”

A Government spokesman said of Mr Scott last night: “All who speak of Mr George Scott at the Post Office say he was an excellent supervisor who was committed, hard-working, and dedicated to his job.

“He was also a family man who was friendly and well-liked by the staff.”

The spokesman said Mr Scott started his career at the General Post Office on January 1, 1948 and remained there until his retirement on February 15, 1988.

He added: “Before Mr Scott’s retirement, he was the supervisor of mail handling, responsible for the General Post Office letter floor administration. His responsibilities included managing staff and timely and efficient mail processing and delivery.

“During Mr. Scott’s 40-year tenure with the Post Office, he served under eight Postmasters General.”

The spokesman noted: “In preserving his legacy at the Post Office, Mr Scott’s daughter, Charmaine Scott, works as a mail processing clerk.”

At a celebration of his life held yesterday in the Anglican Cathedral, Mr Scott was described as “an intelligent, strong-willed, hard-working, caring man who dreamt big and was prepared to take risks”.

The youngest of three children, Mr Scott grew up in a neighbourhood nicknamed Brooklyn in the northwest corner of Hamilton, and attended Central School, now Victor Scott Primary School.

Leaving school in 1945 at age 13, he worked a string of odd jobs, starting in the kitchen at the US Base in the East End, followed by a shoe shop.

Mr Scott obtained work as a janitor at the post office in 1947, in part by claiming to be older.

Four generations of Scotts: George Donald Scott, seated, with son George Anthony Scott, right, two grandsons and two great-grandsons

He went along to claim a string of firsts in the postal system for positions formerly denied to Black staff, beginning with the parcel post section – then located on Front Street because packages came in by ship.

Later responsibilities included supervising incoming and outgoing mail and parcels, equipment and vehicle maintenance, supplies and cash floats.

He was also a mentor to postal workers.

Mr Phillips recalled meeting Mr Scott in the parcel section.

“It did not take me long to recognise that George Scott belonged to a special class of public servants whose career promotions were frustrated by a regime that did not or could not accept that Black people could advance much further than entry level.”

He added: “The term ‘standing on their shoulders’ is a cliché, but sometimes relevant. There were a number of people of colour in the post office whose careers could have been a lot greater, had the opportunity been afforded them.”

Postal work fuelled Mr Scott’s interest in world geography and travel, along with saving and investment, courtesy of the Post Office Savings Bank.

After the early death from cancer of his first wife, Mr Scott married Gloria Williams in 1998.

The father of ten’s story was “one of achieving success on his own terms for himself, and for his family”.

His family added: “George blazed a path in his career at the post office, purchased property and built his home, educated his children, and lived long enough to see the fruits of his labour.”

• George Donald Scott, a trailblazing Bermuda Post Office worker, was born on March 20, 1932. He died on January 5, 2023, aged 90.

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Published January 19, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated January 19, 2023 at 8:12 am)

George Donald Scott (1932-2023): A trailblazer who put his stamp on society

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