Bermuda’s parliamentarians held a moment of silence in the House of Assembly, on hearing of the passing of veteran Progressive Labour Party (PLP) stalwart and elder statesman Reginald Burrows on Friday morning.
Members on both sides of the House spoke volumes on the character of the man referred to as a giant in the community, who joined the PLP during the formative years of party politics in Bermuda, while extending heartfelt condolences to his wife Sheila and family.
Mr Burrows died Friday morning, at the age of 83.
The long time Southampton East MP served in the House of Assembly at a time when Bermuda had two-seat constituencies, from 1968. He also served in the Senate until 2005.
In a statement released through the party, Premier David Burt noted that Mr Burrows entered Bermuda’s political arena “when it was unpopular”. “Our party has lost a great man, and we will feel his loss immensely,” he said.
“Reggie, as he was commonly known, was an integral member of our party, from the 1960s until the present.
“He was a PLP stalwart when it was unpopular to be so, and he stood firm when many retreated. Reggie served in Southampton East from 1968 to 2003; his service spanned the PLP’s time in Opposition, and into Government.
“After retiring from frontline politics, Reggie remained an integral senior party member whose counsel was frequently sought and advice considered,” the Premier said.
Both Opposition and Government MPs expressed numerous accounts of their experiences with Mr Burrows spanning several decades.
Deputy Speaker and former Bermuda Industrial Union President, Derrick Burgess said Mr Burrows was a giant party stalwart who served alongside the likes of a great many others within the ranks of the PLP during a formative period in Bermuda’s political history.
PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong described Mr Burrows as one of Bermuda’s “legislative pioneers”. “He was a quiet giant, but a rock and a devoted family man,” said Mr Commissiong.
One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) MP Cole Simons recalled when he first came to the House in 1998, how Mr Burrows, like the late Dame Lois Brown Evans, was one of the only two real storytellers, who could “tell you this country’s political history like no other”, when they were pioneering politics in Bemruda.
Southampton East MP Zane DeSilva reflected on the fact that Mr Burrows not only helped to build up the party and his community, but he was one of many who physically helped to build the Southampton Rangers Club.
Mr Burrows worked as a plumber in his younger years, and also received a Hall of Fame Award from Wilberforce University, where he graduated in the Class of 1958. Mr Burrows lived in his constituency with his wife Sheila, and family.
He leaves behind a host of relatives and friends. Funeral arrangements are pending.