Slower pace: Dr Brown now has time to pause and admire the fish in his home aquarium. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Slower pace: Dr Brown now has time to pause and admire the fish in his home aquarium. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

Dr Ewart Brown eases back casually into a sofa at his Smith’s home, eagerly chatting about the design aspects he contributed to the house.

He walks around the foyer proudly showcasing his various Gombey décor — including an authentic headdress and a variety of dolls. His home is called Gombey House.

The former Premier then opens the French doors to the patio and talks about  the extensive damage done by Hurricane Fabian and all the work that was needed to fix the property.

We go back inside and Dr Brown sits at the grand piano and mimics a song for us while smiling and laughing.

He strolls over to a large fish tank and taps the glass to alert its occupants. He says he hasn’t seen the fish this lively in weeks.

This is the side of Dr Brown many people haven’t seen.

He was a controversial Premier and many saw him as a ruthless, brusque politician — but that’s not who he is at home.

At home, he’s warm and inviting, always wearing a smile.

Dr Brown welcomed us (myself and photographer Kageaki Smith) into his home for his first full print interview since the tumult of the December 17 General Election.

The 66-year-old told us he is working on an untitled book with a writer.

He said it has multiple themes including family history, Jamaica, Howard University and “a lot of politics”.

“There will be more than a few revelations especially as it pertains to my Premiership,” he said.

There is no publication date as yet but he hopes to have it out by the end of the year.

Dr Brown is enjoying his time away from politics and spoke about what he’s been up to. “I am spending my time doing family business, relaxation and usually it’s either in Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Martha’s Vineyard.” Dr Brown and his wife Wanda Henton Brown have homes in all three locations.

Asked about hobbies, he said: “Well you know I play golf so I spend a lot of time watching golf and playing golf. Staying in shape takes up some time and again I spend a lot of time making sure that my sons are getting the best opportunities that they can.

“I have one who’s incarcerated at the moment in California. I’ll be visiting him in a couple of weeks and so I try to make sure that his appeal is where it should be.”

Son in jail

Kevin Brown, a medical doctor, was convicted in 2011 on 21 charges of sexually assaulting female patients including a 15-year-old girl and an undercover police officer. He was jailed for 12 and a half years in December 2011.

Dr Brown also spoke of another son, Maurice Pitt, who was jailed for ten years in 2002 for armed robbery in California.

“And then there’s another one who’s in Louisiana at the moment. He’s out of jail and employed and trying to make his way back.”

His youngest Donovan Brown graduates from Howard University in May.

Dr Brown referred to his third youngest son, Ewart Brown Jr, also known as Trey, as his “namesake”. He lives in Detroit, having graduated from Howard.

“The exciting thing that we talk about almost every day is that they came to me a year ago wanting to start a family business and so about three months ago they launched a business called Brown Brothers Hair.

“They are in the hair business. It’s a supply company essentially. And they are going through the growing pains of a new business but it’s good because it forces us to stay in communication and it gives me an opportunity to teach them about business even though they already know it all.”

Asked about new hobbies, Dr Brown said: “Not brand new. I’m trying to become a better black jack player. I’ve been playing for a long time and I’m doing better. I’ll be happy when I can play blackjack in Bermuda.”

As far as the best part about not being on call or having to answer questions all the time, he said: “The best part is having more time to contemplate between decisions.

“We have two clinics and they keep us busy but we have a good group of people who allow us to be away for significant periods and the businesses continue to do well.”

Status on clinic

The controversial Brown-Darrell Clinic has yet to open due to a lack of regulations in the field - but clinical trials could begin this year.

It was first announced in July 2007 and is owned by Dr Ewart Brown and his wife Wanda Henton Brown.

The clinic is a partnership with San Diego based firm Stemedica Cell Technologies.

It was due to be open by now, but there have been legislative challenges. In a special report in September 2007, the Bermuda Sun revealed that the island did not have the regulatory framework to oversee stem cell work.

In 2009, former Health Minister Nelson Bascome promised guidelines would be put in place. Last February, the OBA called for the then-PLP government to reveal what stem cell regulations were in store.

Dr Brown said the clinic was named after his family lineage: “It’s set up to serve Bermuda in two ways, state of the art CT scanning with a special feature that can identify blockages in heart arteries and a floor dedicated to our Stem Cell Project.  We see the Stem Cell Project eventually being among the leading clinics in the world where we offer Stem Cell treatments for a number of disorders including diabetic eye disorders.”

Asked about progress, he said: “It’s coming along, slowly but surely.

“In 2007 we thought we would be in operation by 2008/09 but there was insufficient regulation of research in Bermuda and we agreed with the government that we should wait until the appropriate mechanism is in place so now we think we are almost there.

Medical tourism

“I would be surprised if we don’t actually begin to treat patients as part of a clinical trial this year. It’s already been approved by an independent review board in the States and that’s what the Bermuda government had required. So we did that and made a presentation to the ethics committee at the hospital. They seem to be pleased with it and we want to go ahead.

“What we don’t want is for the opportunity to be missed for Bermuda to be at the forefront at least regionally because we also see it not just as medical pioneering but it also could lead to significant medical tourism.”

Dr Brown said the clinic will initially have a staff of three to five and when they start treating patients, there will be eight to ten and that jobs would be available for Bermudians.