Savvy: As Finance Minister and then Premier, Sir David Gibbons ‘created a sound financial base for Bermuda’. *File photo by Kageaki Smith
Savvy: As Finance Minister and then Premier, Sir David Gibbons ‘created a sound financial base for Bermuda’. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

Funeral arrangements are being made for former Premier Sir David Gibbons, an iconic figure in local business and politics who died at the weekend.

Tributes have been paid by islanders from all walks of life.

Premier Craig Cannonier said: “On behalf of the Government of Bermuda and all Bermudians, I offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the family of former Premier, Sir David Gibbons.

“Sir David was a man of great accomplishment — a political leader during a time of turbulence and change, a renowned businessman who succeeded both here at home and abroad and a philanthropist whose generosity benefited many.

“His life’s work made Bermuda stronger and more prosperous. May he rest in peace.”

Governor George Fergusson also issued a statement: “I am very sad to learn of the death of Sir David Gibbons.

“He made an astonishing contribution across a broad sweep of Bermuda’s political and business life, and in both helped set the foundations for much of Bermuda’s prosperity.

“I send my condolences to Lady Gibbons and his wider family.”

Thaddeus Hollis, chairman of the OBA, said: “All Bermudians will mourn the loss of Sir David Gibbons, one of Bermuda’s great men in politics and finance. 

“He will be remembered as our Premier during the late 1970s, which was a time of great social unrest. He became Premier in 1977, and held that office until very early in 1982.

“But his greatest contribution to Bermuda was probably as Finance Minister earlier during his,career.”

Mr Hollis continued: “He introduced the concept of a balanced budget in Bermuda, substantially reducing the debt we had incurred as a result of undertaking needed capital projects. 

“He created the sound financial base from which Bermuda was able to enjoy a period of extraordinary financial success during the 1980s.

“The One Bermuda Alliance offers its sympathy and prayers to his family in their bereavement.”

And a spokesman from the Bermuda College said: “As many of you may have heard Sir David Gibbons passed away Sunday after a short illness.  

“Sir David was the first Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bermuda College and was instrumental in the College’s formation. 

“He was elected as an Honorary Fellow in 1991 and had been very active in the Company of Honorary Fellows until recently.  

“Out of respect for Sir David the Bermuda College flag will be lowered until his funeral. Condolences on behalf of the Bermuda College family will be sent to his wife, Lady Gibbons, and the rest of his family.”

‘A global thinker’

Sir David was chairman of the Bermuda Monetary Authority’s Board of Directors from 1984 to 1986. In recognition of Sir David’s outstanding contribution, both to the Authority and to Bermuda as a whole, Authority Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Cox, recalled the foundational work of a man who “knew business and understood Bermuda”.

“From what I have been told, there was nothing passive about Sir David’s chairmanship,” said Mr. Cox.

“It was clear to me from my own conversations with him that he was a global thinker who knew what made our economy tick, who appreciated that it was heavily influenced by markets overseas and who recognized Bermuda’s exceptional potential as an international financial services centre.” 

Ms Marcia Woolridge-Allwood, Director, Banking, Trust, Corporate Services & Investment at the Authority, clearly remembers her encounters with the former Chairman during his tenure at the Authority: “Sir David used to arrive at the office at exactly 8am every morning,” she recalled. “As managers, you had a daily meeting with him to discuss issues requiring a decision by him. Your audience was a max of ten minutes so you learned early on to be concise and to the point so that you got the decision you needed before you left the room!”

Mr Cox described Sir David as “a visionary leader”.

“There is no doubt that he helped to create the Authority that we have today and in doing so he shaped Bermuda’s financial services sector,” he said. “He was an iconic figure who made an enormous contribution to our country.” 

Flags on all government buildings were flown at half-mast on Monday and that protocol will be repeated again on the day of his funeral.