The Hon. Ralph Marshall was laid to rest on Saturday [Sept 22], with family and friends gathering to pay tribute to the former MP and Cabinet Minister. Mr Marshall was the first Portuguese Bermudian to be elected as an MP, and represented the constituency of Southampton West from 1963 to 1993.
Those in attendance included Premier Paula Cox, former Premier Sir David Gibbons, former Premier Sir John Swan, former Premier Dame Pamela Gordon, Speaker of the House Stanley Lowe, OBA MP Dr. Grant Gibbons, OBA MP Pat Gordon Pamplin, UBP MP Charlie Swan and UBP MP Kim Swan.
The eulogy was delivered by Mr Marshall’s son Blake Marshall, words of comfort were offered by St. Anne’s Church Rector David Matthews, and a tribute was offered by Member of Parliament for St. George’s West Kim Swan.
Mr Swan’s tribute follows below:
Today is a sad day in my life – as it is a day that I get to say a final goodbye to a man who became a father figure in my life and helped to shape the direction of the path God provided for me to follow.My wife Cindy and I are deeply saddened by the passing of the Hon. Ralph O. Marshall of Sandys Parish and we offer our deepest sympathies to Belinda, Blake and the entire Marshall family.
It was only a weeks ago that I visited Peacehaven to see Mr. Marshall. He didn’t say much but upon seeing me he poke me in the belly to signal his disapproval of my added weight – since then I have launched GGG Program – Guts Gotta Go Program.
Ralph Marshall was a trailblazer for the Portuguese/Bermudian Community with many first in business, politics and socially – he was a loving family man and a dear friend.
Upon reflection on his life he had to overcome adversity to forge a life for he and his family amidst a social climate unfavourable to a young man of Portuguese decent – make no mistake, it was tough for a young man of portuguese decent growing up in Bermuda in the 1930′s, 1940′s and 1950′s and it was because of the trailblazing efforts of Ralph Marshall and the many others that followed him that broke down the stable gates.
I can understand and appreciate what it must been like for Ralph, a young man with no portuguese professionals as role models before him, determining that getting and education and being educated was the way for him to become successful.
Notwithstanding, let us not underestimate how important good old fashion values that our parents and grandparents passed on to us were and continue to remain today.
Whilst Ralph Marshall was my area Member of Parliament in Southampton West from 1963 to 1993, our association was very personal and came about through the game of golf – as he was an avid golfer and directly involved in the development of both Port Royal Golf Course serving as its Deputy Chairman (1970 – 1972); and, the development of St. George’s Golf Course by establishing the St. George’s Golf Course Advisory Committee in 1980 during his tenure as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries from 1978 to 1981.
With the establishment of Port Royal in 1970, the opportunity was provided and the social engineering of former Port Royal Golf Pro Walter King – who later became a Member of Parliament – Ralph’s son Blake (Bermuda’s top Junior golfer at that time), myself & others from diverse backgrounds became childhood friends. It was a time when the children of Demoura, Powell, Trott, Christiansen, Lindo, Munro, Terceira and Marshall connected through golf with the children Simmons, Ford, Pitt, Rabain, Pearman, Bean, Swan and Tucker. Friendships and relationships were formed.
Personally, I am pleased that I was able to tell the world how much I appreciated Ralph Owen Marshall when I gave the Commencement Address at Troy University in 2010 which was later featured in the Troy Magazine which read as follows:
“Blake’s father (Hon. Ralph Marshall) was my area Member of Parliament,”
“Following my sophomore year (1978) at Palm Beach Junior College, I shared with Blake that I was looking for a job because I could not afford to complete my education and attend Troy University where I had been accepted. Blake told me to contact his father, who could make it possible financially for me complete my education. Through that connection, I was able to complete my University studies and over the years became very close with Mr. Ralph Marshall..”
During the second half of Ralph Marshall’s 30 year political tenure he was one of my early political mentors and we shared a great deal as I quenched my political thirst by joining the Southampton West Branch of the United Bermuda Party.
I learned a great deal about politics in the company of Ralph Marshall, Harry Viera and the Southampton West Branch and it was always Ralph’s desire that I succeed him as the MP for Southampton West.
As fate would have it, that opportunity did not materialise in our beloved Southampton but in later years it did happen in St. George’s where Ralph had placed me on the St. George’s Golf Course Advisory Board following the 1980 General Election.
Although Southampton West was considered a safe seat Ralph and Harry Viera had challenges from the PLP and I recall a youthful Ms. Laverne Furbert ran against Ralph and Harry twice in Southampton West (1980 and 1983). I remember Ralph asking me, ” Kim, whose is this young lady the PLP are putting up against me from Rose Hill ? She’s really attractive …. ”
Ralph prided himself on being first elected as an Independent Member in 1963 along with the late Dame Lois Brown Evans, Walter Roberts and the late Sir John Sharpe. He was also proud that he never voted against his government but caucus was certainly lively as he and his colleagues worked caucus to battle controversial positions coming out of cabinet.
The UBP had a backbench with backbone unafraid to take its own government to task.
The Honourable Ralph Marshall had an impact on many persons lives. Former Senate Vice President Dr. I.W. Walwyn Hughes was one of the first persons that I called when learning of Mr. Marshall’s passing. He is traveling but shared this with both Blake and myself:
“We were shocked to read in the Royal Gazette on line of Ralph’s death. I am so glad that I visited with him just a day or two before we left on this trip, for I had not been for some time prior to that and knew I would not be back for several weeks. We had a good chat, with me doing most of the talking, as usual! ”
” When I was a teenager and had just graduated from Whitney Institute, I was too young and too academically ill-prepared to go off to university, having spent most of my life up to that time on sporting interests. My dad, a single parent caring for two children. was uncertain what to do with me. A talk with Ralph, who had recently returned to Bermuda, persuaded my dad that Mount Alison Academy, associated with Ralph’s alma mater, would be a good place for me to go. And of course it proved to be, preparing me for Cornell and later the University of Florida. ”
So you see, Ralph Marshall had an important influence on my life and I, in turn, had great admiration and affection for him. I shall miss him very much.”
Architect Philip Seaman writing on social media facebook said the following:
” Brother Kim, Ralph Marshall was a man of vision. …….. You (Kim Swan) and I are both better men as a result of his personal contribution into our individual lives.”
In Closing, from my vantage point, of the many contributions that Ralph Marshall made in service to our country – in my humble opinion - the greatest positive influence on Bermuda was his involvement in the vision to build Port Royal Golf
Course and 10 years later as Minister of Works, Agriculture & Fisheries the purchase of the land which led to the development of St. George’s Golf Course. That has proven to be a legacy of social engineering that brought the people of Bermuda together like never before and at the same time exposed our visitors to our greatest asset our Bermudian people.
Like his family, today I mourn someone dear to me as we a;; will do one-day if we are fortunate enough to Love or be Loved…..
Walter King now residing in the United States offered the following quote when we talked this week: We can either be bystanders to a passing 21st century historic dream of heroic proportions or can we be leaders ”
Ralph Marshall was a leader who made a positive impact on Bermuda.
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