It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that l pay tribute to and report on the passing today of my good friend, mentor, educator and Bahamian sports icon, Betty Cole.
She was ninety-two years old.
Not only did Betty attain iconic status in the sport of swimming because of her many achievements, she was a role model to many girls and women who dared to shatter many of the glass ceilings that denied women many equal opportunities and preventing them from realizing their full potentials.
On a personal level, we worked together and enjoyed a close relationship when she headed a swim club and trained some of my children in the sport of swimming. I always admired her can do and affable spirit, her quiet confidence and her eternal optimism. These personal attributes no doubt drove her personal success and ultimately her greatness as she assisted others in becoming successful through her mentorship, counseling and coaching.
The Basketball court on Malcolm Park is named in her honour, memorializing her community service and leadership in the discipline of sports.
She was a progenitor in the Sweet Sears Association, a body founded to develop the park in her neighbourhood of Sears Road.
She was a teacher at the Xavier’s Roman Catholic School for many years and made her indelible mark on that school’s physical education programme, developing not only a generation of swimmers, but more importantly a generation of student athletes.
Her leadership transcended both sports and education as she played an active and pivotal role in the girls guide movement, impacting the lives of a generation of young girls into productive womanhood and national leadership.
For her lifelong service to her community and country, Betty was further memorialized – this time nationally when she was befittingly honoured by the queen.
Betty lived a full and purpose driven life – a life marked by service to others. I thank her for her selfless community service and grateful to God for the time she was loan to us.
Today would have been the day when she would bring the annual Santa Claus visit to her neighbourhood.
Sadly, this annual joyous and festive occasion was not to be as she quietly transitioned into eternity. She will continue to live in the hearts and minds of those of us who knew and loved her and benefitted from her work.
On behalf of my wife Ann-Marie, Deputy Leader Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, National Chairman Fred Mitchell, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, l extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Cole family and the communities around Sears Road.
May she rest in peace