Politicians from all three political parties have paid tribute to the late Ralph Marshall, a trailblazing figure who was the first Portuguese Bermudian to be elected as an MP and to serve as a Cabinet Minister.
A statement from the PLP said: “The Progressive Labour Party would like to pay tribute to founding United Bermuda Party member and former Cabinet Minister, the Hon. Ralph Marshall, CBE on his passing.
“First elected to the House in the Class of 1963, along with Bermudian political heroes such as Dame Lois Browne-Evans and Sir John Sharpe, Mr. Marshall, a Member of Parliament for Southampton West from 1963 until 1993, dedicated much of his life to serving the Bermudian community, and more specifically as a representative of the Portuguese community.
“Mr. Marshall’s political career saw him serve in Cabinet in a multitude of roles, Minister of Transport (1972-1974), Minister of Works, Agriculture & Fisheries (1974-1976, 1978-1981), Minister of Health (1976), Minister without Portfolio (1977), and Minister of Transport (1989-1993).
“One can only imagine the sacrifices that he must have made personally while serving his country in these many capacities for this period of time. We thank Mr. Marshall for his service to Bermuda, and the Progressive Labour Party extends our sympathies and condolences to his family members and friends.”
Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier said: “Bermuda has lost a highly accomplished politician-statesman and businessman who was, for many decades, an anchor of strength to the Portuguese community.
“The Hon. Ralph Marshall was a key builder of Bermuda as we know it today. In his private life, Mr. Marshall was a successful engineer and architect. In his public life, he was a founding member of the United Bermuda Party under the legendary Sir Henry Tucker.
“He was an outstanding member of the Portuguese community, breaking down many barriers as Bermuda matured as a community in which diversity was welcomed and respected.
“He was the first Portuguese-Bermudian Member of Parliament (for Southampton) in 1963, the first Portuguese-Bermudian Cabinet Minister in 1972 and the first Portuguese-Bermudian to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1992.
“He held several of the largest and most important Cabinet Portfolios during his 30-year career in public service, and so can be said to have left his mark on virtually every corner of Bermuda.
“He was truly one of modern Bermuda’s most important and influential sons, and as those who benefited from his long life of unstinting public service, we give thanks for the life of Ralph Marshall.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in their time of bereavement,” concluded Mr Cannonier.
UBP MP Charles Swan said: “It is with deep sadness that the news of the passing of the Hon. Ralph Owen Marshall JP MP is received.
Elected in 1963 as an Independent, he was the first Bermudian of Portuguese descent to be elected to our House of Parliament. He eventually joined the United Bermuda Party when that party was formed in 1964.
“Ralph Owen Marshall represented all of what is now Constituency #31 – Southampton West Central, and part of what is now Constituency #32 – Southampton West. In those days of 2 seat constituencies, the Hon. Ralph Marshall, along with his colleague the Hon. Harry Viera, where consistently strong advocates and voices.
“As the current Member representing Constituency #31, I am proud to carry on the legacy both these men bequeathed Bermuda. Their humble beginnings allowed them to relate to, and appreciate, the needs of their Constituents. I consider it an honour to follow in both their footsteps, while today respecting especially those of the Hon Ralph Marshall,” continued Mr Swan.
“It is my recollection, from attending numerous bar b q’s, meetings and other events at the home of the Hon. Ralph Marshall and his wife , that his hand of help touched a very broad range of individuals, many in very significant ways. All the while, his hand of help transcended socio and economic divides that existed at the time.
“Through his architectural firm, the Marshall Bernardo Partnership, the plumbing company started by my father, and which still exists today, benefited through winning bids, or being a nominated contractor, on various construction projects.
“I personally went on to attend Warwick Academy with his children – Belinda, Marsha and Blake. My own children attended the same school with his grandchildren, and they enjoyed uncountable hours playing various sports together – in particular golf, which the Hon. Ralph Marshall enjoyed regularly until a few years ago.
“While the Hon Ralph Owen Marshall JP MP has gone, he will be remembered for his service spanning 30 years an elected member, through buildings such as Mayflower Court, the Grotto Bay Beach Resort and numerous others, and through his children and grandchildren.
“My sincerest condolences and thoughts are with all the family at this time,” concluded Mr Swan.
Vasco President Andrea Moniz DeSouza said: “As the first Bermudian of Portuguese descent to serve as a member of the House of Assembly, the late Hon. Ralph O. Marshall. J.P., M.P., was not only a political pioneer but also an inspiration to all Portuguese Bermudians. Hon. Ralph Marshall was well respected throughout our community and demonstrated to us the endless opportunities available to us. Our sincerest condolences go out to the family.”