It is with deep regret to report that Bermuda’s own ‘Living Memories’ icon Oda Mallory, affectionately known as Blondell on the airwaves, passed away this weekend.
The announcement came from one of her sons, Patrick Burgess who posted the following on Facebook: “Hello everyone, this is Patrick Burgess writing to let all my mother’s Facebook friends know that she passed peacefully in her sleep this evening.
“She was 83. Stay tuned for funeral arrangements.”
Ms Mallory graced local airwaves for many years, over the years with a talk show that recounted countless historical facts about Bermuda that spread a wealth of knowledge on the island’s living legends.
A pioneer in broadcasting, she extended her wealth of knowledge to the realms of social media, when she crafted her own website Living Memories with Blondell in 2009.
On her home page, she stated: “This website is a dream come true!
“Thirty years ago, Living Memories© was born at VSB radio. Sunday mornings became the most talked about radio program.
“It prompted conversations in cafeterias between colleagues who rarely conversed at length with each other, at our banks, around the water cooler of large businesses. The reason for the excitement was that the stories being told by Bermuda’s senior citizens could not be found in out history books. The callers were from all walks of life. Letters to the editor of our daily newspaper were frequent and complimentary. An article written by ‘Scribbler’ entitled ‘Play it again Sam’ was found among my souvenirs, it prompted me to ask my good friends Everest & Linda Mello, if they thought the return of Living Memories© would be welcomed …….their reply was an overwhelming ‘yes girl without a doubt’.
“Technology has certainly come a long way since 1984 – it affords you the opportunity to hear some special calls made 25 + years ago by persons who have now deceased. We thank their families for permission to post their loved ones voices on the Internet.
“Have fun with your family by trying to identify locations, buildings, ships, hotels, streets. Seeing the old bank notes will certainly prompt conversations especially that ten pound note!”
And in her own description about herself, she wrote: “It can be said that I am a ‘Jane’ of more than one trade!
“My early adult years I dispatched taxis around my beautiful island; in those days we used a two-way radio to communicate with the drivers.
“Having been taught typing and shorthand by Mrs Ruth Seaton – James, Bermuda’s first female Registrar General, I decided to add to that training by taking an accounting course with Kessell & Co Chartered Accountants 1965. Then in 1968, The Bermuda Coin & Stamp Co Ltd advertised for a manager for their Front Street business……..I dared to apply.
“To my delight Mr Ward Young gave me the job! I had no knowledge of Numismatics or Philately but as the tourists would say “she is a super sales lady”. I suspect Mr Young recognized that quality in me. I read every book, magazine and periodical on both subjects, by the end of my six months trial period, I knew more than the owners about coins & stamps.
“Then one day I was offered the opportunity to open my own Coin & Stamp Shop, I set up a delightful business in the Washington Mall, with cedar showcases, made by Mr. Clement Lespere, one of Bermuda’s finest carpenters. There was a bell under the green carpet at the entrance. Was it a plush shop? Indeed it was! I stayed at the Mall for 6 years then moved to the Towne of St George’s – not a good idea; I chose the wrong location it was too far from the Town Square.
One day, Mr Ralph Pengelly came in the shop and said: “I understand that you are the best sales lady around”, she added.
“I have a job for you in the insurance industry; you can put a staff member in the shop, come to Manulife on Gorham Road and sell insurance”. I did and stayed for 12 years, then, I joined the BF&M Insurance Group on Pitt’s Bay Road and stayed there for 16 years plus 5 years in my ‘home office’ selling insurance. While working at insurance, I was coaxed to apply for a job with the new radio station – VSB. I was hired without an audition.
“Hello, I am applying for a post as an announcer for the new radio station”. I was speaking to two men sitting on a couch in the reception area. One was the late Mr Ron Evans, the other was Mr. Kenny DeFontes the President of the company – Mr. Evans was the station manager, he looked up from a book he was reading and said, “ oh yes, you are hired”! I remained in broadcasting for 17 years divided between both VSB & Bermuda Broadcasting – ZBM until 1997.
“The Living Memories Talk Show was created by yours truly and was an immediate success. As a result I was awarded the Queen’s Certificate & Badge of Honour 1985, ‘For significant contribution to the elderly of Bermuda through the radio program Living Memories’ – the Government Ministry of Community & Cultural Affairs 1985 –‘for service to the community through your radio program’ – The National Trust 1986 / 1992 – Lions Clubs of Bermuda – Rotary International – Kiwanis Club- The Salvation Army – Vernon Temple AME Church – Taxi Driver Appreciation Week Award ‘for outstanding service to the country and for demonstrated professionalism as an ambassador of goodwill to Bermuda’s visitors’.
“I am the proud mother of three adult children Deborah Mallory- Hunter, (US) Ralph Mallory and Patrick Burgess and three grandchildren – Katrina Hunter, (US) Samuel Hunter Jr (US) and Rajiv Mallory.
Oda A Mallory, JP (Alias Blondell ‘Minstrel of beautiful music’).
Tributes were pouring in this weekend lamenting the loss of one of Bermuda’s most cherished voices, including Ward Young and a long time former colleague Chris Lodge.
This journalist had the pleasure of working with Blondell for many years during the ‘rookie’ era at VSB Radio. Quite often we worked that Sunday morning shift together. And she didn’t mind sharing her wealth of expertise when we were still wet behind the ears in broadcasting. It all started many moons ago at VSB in 1984.
Truly saddened to hear of your passing. To Patrick , another colleague and family – hold your head up my brother! Your mother was and will forever be ICONIC!
From our house to yours we send our sincere condolences on this massive loss.
RIP Blondell – Love Forever STILL…