Prime Minister Davis pays tribute to the late Eldred Edison ‘Ed’ Bethel

Mourners at the funeral service of Eldred Edison ‘Ed’ Bethel.
PM Davis

NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Tribute at a Service to Commemorate the Life of Eldred Edison ‘Ed’ Bethel, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said, on March 29, 2023, that, in the “pantheon of nation-builders”, the life and contribution of Ed Bethel “stands tall.”

“I am happy that during the course of his life, his works and achievements were already being recognized,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the Service at Christ Church Cathedral.  “Too often, we leave these things until after our heroes are no longer with us.

“Since his passing, many others, here in The Bahamas and around the world, have paid added tribute to Ed’s exceptional qualities: as a journalist, a broadcaster, a diplomat, a colleague, a friend, and family member,” he added.

 “I heartily add my voice to this chorus of acclaim.”

Prime Minister Davis said that all could learn from Mr. Bethel’s example of what it was to be a nation-builder.  He added that Mr. Bethel was a “Great” and “Grand” Bahamian.

Prime Minister Davis said: “He fearlessly devoted his talent, experience, and expertise to the public good.  He was a pioneer.  He was prepared to go into unchartered territory: to build things, to do things that hadn’t been done before.”

He pointed out that it required not just the boldness and clarity of vision, but the resilience and determination to make it into a reality.

Prime Minister Davis added that, to build a national broadcasting network from nothing required more than technical skill. He noted that it was also to appreciate at a profound level, that the charge to inform, educate and entertain a nation “is a critical building-block toward knowing, reflecting, and understanding who we are”.

“And it all succeeded because it was founded on a bedrock of trust,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “Ed’s voice was a trusted voice.”

“To hear him, to see him, was to know that you were receiving an accurate version of the first draft of history,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “This is no small thing in an age where cynicism and doubt prevail.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that, while Mr. Bethel’s political affiliation was well-known, the public also recognised that it did not affect his integrity as a journalist.

“He did not shape the facts to fit his own preferences,” he said.  “He did not allow his perspective to be narrowed into party politics, or to distort his account of what was fair or right.”

“Whether it was the cut and thrust of politics, the thrills and spills in sport, or the charm and quirks of community life, we knew that we could take what Ed said at face value,” he added.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that that was especially important when radio was the only national broadcast medium.

“It was Ed Bethel who painted the picture in our own imaginations, who provided context and meaning to great national events,” he said.

He added: “We shared his uncontained excitement that night in Paris, when Elisha Obed won the Welterweight Championship title …

“We danced along as he described Chippy bursting into the Le Cabaret Theatre with his Junkanoo group, just after Sonia Chipman was crowned Miss Bahamas.”

“Indeed, at midnight on July 10th 1973, as the Bahamian flag was raised for the first time, we choked up and gave tearful thanks, as Ed Bethel announced that the Commonwealth of The Bahamas was born,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“I am sorry that he did not live to see July 10th 2023,” he added.

“He still had more to offer.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, up until recently, Mr. Bethel continued to contribute his knowledge and advice into the planning for the Independence Celebrations.

“His instinct and generosity to share his experience with others remained strong,” he said.  “As he had trained generations of young journalists, so he continued to offer the wisdom of his years.”

“I am pleased that on Monday past, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas re-named its main Studio A, the Ed Bethel Studio,” Prime Minister Davis added.

“Future generations who broadcast from there, should know in whose footsteps they follow, and on whose shoulders they have been raised.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that Mr. Bethel’s “crowning glory” was to represent The Bahamas on the world stage.

“His career as a diplomat was stellar,” he said.

“As Consul-General in New York, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Ambassador to the European Union, he worked tirelessly to advance the interests of The Bahamas,” he added.

“At the same time he also brought together the many disparate elements in the Bahamian diaspora.”

In the diplomatic home of Mr. Bethel and his wife Dawne, Prime Minister Davis said every Bahamian was welcome.

“It wasn’t just the bigwigs and the so-called important people, they worked hard to make Bahamians feel that they had a home away from home, to keep them connected,” he said.

“I say again, he was a Great and Grand Bahamian.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, sadly, that did not mean that in turn that Ed was always treated well, or indeed, treated right.

“He endured some difficult times – that he did; and yet, he continued to move forward with all the compassion, integrity and strength of character which so distinguished him,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“This fact alone, goes to the heart of what I believe to be the essential characteristics of Great and Grand Bahamians,” he added.

“To be, at the same time, both a nation-builder and a wonderful human being, to triumph in good fortune and adversity, to be among the best of who we are.”

Prime Minister Davis stated that, apart from his great strides in public life, he was also happy to know Mr. Bethel as a friend.

He noted that he was pleased to have had the opportunity to visit him a few weeks before he passed.

“Even though the illness was already taking its toll, he was, with Dawne, still the consummate host: dignified, gracious, thoughtful, forward-looking and in good humour,” Prime Minister Davis said.

He added: “We shall miss him.  The broadcasting and journalist fraternity will miss him.  The “Lunch Bunch” family will miss him.  Our Diplomatic Corps will miss him.  Our Progressive Liberal Party family will miss him.  And, of course, our nation will miss him.

“On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my family, and on behalf of the government and the people of our beloved Bahamas, I offer condolences to his wife Dawne, their children Lisa, Bianca, John, Wayne and Christian, and to all the family and friends of Ed Bethel,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“May his soul Rest in Peace.”

Family of the late Eldred Edison ‘Ed’ Bethel gathered at Christ Church Cathedral.
Former PM Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie paying his respects to Ed Bethel.
HE Dr. Ellison Greenslade and Mrs Greenslade – former High Commissioner or London and Ambassador to South Africa.
Minister for National Insurance and Broadcasting Hon. Myles Laroda.