Farewell: Head Doorman/Bell Captain and Supervisor of All Ground Transportation at Rosewood Tucker’s Point, Raymond Ming bids a fond farewell as he prepares for semi-retirement after 45 years in the hospitality industry.  *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

He is one of the most respected men in the hospitality industry and has received the Queen’s Certificate & Badge of Honour for his work.

But Rosewood Tucker’s Point’s retiring Head Doorman/Bell Captain and Supervisor of All Ground Transportation has a full plume of feathers to his hat. His fascinating life has seen him climb from humble beginnings to great heights. He managed one of the island’s most successful bands, Ted Ming and The Bermuda Strollers, who came up behind The Talbot Brothers.

Known as the official College Weeks band, they brought thousands of students to the island and even performed for John F Kennedy’s family on their private compound. He managed his own store, worked as a traffic officer, tour guide and taxi driver, and even ran for Parliament. He has run over 50 Marathons and was involved in several other sports.

While he is proud of his achievements, Mr Ming isn’t one to let things go to his head; he is a man who cherishes people wherever they come from and his true passion is charity. He spoke exclusively to the
Bermuda Sun about his incredible story, which we will run in two parts, today and next week.

aymond Ming collected every tip he received during his 45-year career in the hotel industry — and gave it to families in need. 

It’s an inspiring fact from the life story of an inspiring man.

Mr Ming’s heart of gold easily outshines the multitude of medals he has been awarded throughout his career, including the prestigious Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour and the Belco VIP Award.   

After all, it’s not about the big awards for him — it’s about all the people who have made him the charming, charitable and much-admired man he is today. 

Speaking to hotel co-workers on his last day as Head Doorman/Bell Captain and Supervisor of All Ground Transportation at Rosewood Tucker’s Point last Friday, following an awe-inspiring career involving the hospitality industry, one of Bermuda’s greatest ambassadors said: “I would give up all the awards in the world for the people in this room today.” True to form, he returned to work the following two days as the hotel was in need of his assistance. Mr Ming will continue his tour guides — Ray’s Rambles — every Saturday morning at the hotel.

Service with a smile: Raymond Ming instantly made friends with the guests he greeted on the door at Elbow Beach Hotel. *Photo supplied

One of the saddest events Mr Ming, 66, ever experienced was when he was bidding farewell to an elderly lady visiting the hotel — one of the many hearts he has touched over the years. Grinning from ear to ear, he told me: “I did my usual — I said, ‘Thank you very much for 

staying at Rosewood Tuckers Point. I hope you had a wonderful stay and we look forward to your return.” 

Then, suddenly solemn, he continued: “She then hit me with a bomb. She turned to me and said, ‘Raymond, you have been so wonderful to me, you have played a major part in my life in just a few days. You just asked me to return but this is my last trip — I’m dying’. She then hugged me and she wouldn’t let me go.” 

It hit him so hard that he did a very rare thing and asked to leave work early for the day. 

Childhood tragedy

It was a tragic early life experience that spurred the young Ord Road School student to devote his life to the happiness of
others — when he was just 12 years old, his father, Wesley, who he cherished, suddenly passed away. It was March 9, 1960 and his world fell apart. The second youngest in a family of ten, his first impulse was to figure out how he could help his mother Mabel support the family.

Father Wesley Ming, left, and mother Mabel Ming *Photos supplied

“It was shocking for me. I didn’t know what to do for weeks. This person that meant so much was just gone. I didn’t tell anyone for years but I took it all on…

“As young as I was, I had to decide what to do — it was hard for me to go back school, I kept thinking of my mother looking after all those children. We didn’t have a lot of money — we were working-class people — a close family… I did something you are not supposed to do. I said, ‘I’m going to get a job’. I have to admit that I lied to my mother — she thought I was being held back at school but I was going to interviews.”

Just a few weeks after his father’s death, Mr Ming found himself waiting patiently for an interview for a position as a Messenger Boy at Archie Brown and Son retail store — he was the last boy in a line of 23.

“Mr Brown said to me, ‘You’ve got a lot of patience, tell me why you want this job’. I had some tears in my eyes and I told him I really need this job. I need to help my mom, she doesn’t know I’m here and I just lost my father... I told him he would be getting an honest young man.” 

Mr Brown found it in his heart to offer boy number 23 a part-time afternoon job and full time work over the summer. 

“Blessed with numbers”, Mr Ming instantly impressed and Mr Brown offered to pay for night classes to “keep him sharp”. 

He once corrected a sales assistant when she made a mistake at the till to which she replied, “you will never be anything more than a black boy dumping trash”. Mr Brown heard about the exchange and told the lady: “I never want to hear those words again — his name is Raymond and that’s what you should call him.”

A determined boy, Mr Ming went from strength to strength and was soon sent to London — along with his co-worker Leon Dickenson — to be trained with Marks & Spencer, then one of the most successful companies in Britain. 

A couple of years after his return he became the boss of the sales assistant who had insulted him and she duly took early retirement. A Christian man, he was quick to forgive her when she asked it of him.

His elder sister Barbara played a major role in making the man Mr Ming would become, teaching him about world affairs and how to save money. Most of his earnings went into the “family fund” and they would go on to buy their first family home in Sunny Side Park in Southampton.

As he climbed the ladder, he felt he, “wasn’t doing enough for the family” and so got a second job as Captain at the famous Forty Thieves Club. 

His brother, also a recipient of the Queen’s Award, was an entertainer leading the group Ted Ming and the Bermuda Strollers. The great Ross ‘Blackie’ Talbot said to Mr Ming: “I been watching you and you have a pretty sharp mind — you should think about managing your brother’s band.” And so began an adventure that would span 17 years. 

That’s show biz: The Strollers perform a gig at the famous Forty Thieves Club. *Photo supplied

Following the Talbot Brothers, The Strollers would become the official College Weeks band and travelled with several Tourism Ministers around the States promoting College Weeks in Bermuda. Bermuda used to get between 8,000 to 13,000 students over a six-week period.

During one promotion at Brown University, Mr Ming’s friend Billy Way, a top Providence tennis player who lived in Bermuda, introduced him to John F Kennedy, Junior. Mr Ming shocked him by telling him that as a child, he’d met his father, then Senator John F Kennedy. His mother had worked for the Brookes family who once hosted the soon-to-be President of the United States. The pair hit it off and John Jnr said to Mr Ming: “I like your band, how would you like to play for my family?”

“I said, ‘are you serious?’ So, in the 80s, The Bermuda Strollers, under my management, actually played for the Kennedy family in Newport Rhode Island at Hammer Smith Farm — the Kennedy compound — that was a big job for us — it was a moment for us to play for them.”

That’s show biz: Above, Ted Ming and The Bermuda Strollers. Ted Ming, third from right, is the brother of Raymond Ming, far right. *Photo supplied

The gig landed them many important contacts and they performed many charity events including the Special Olympics in Boston. They continued to perform charity gigs for children’s and nursing homes in Bermuda and  overseas. “Ted always wanted to do things like that for Bermuda,” said Mr Ming. But it ran in the family. Over his 45 year career in hospitality, Raymond Ming’s tips bought Christmas turkeys and gifts for numerous families in need and he makes an effort to visit hospitals and care for those without much family or support. 

One of the most important jobs for The Strollers, he said, was promoting Bermuda during the general strike of 1981.

“The island was shut down. We were with the Minister Jim Woolridge. we had to go and tell people that Bermuda was open for business. 

“For me it was one of the most important jobs under my management that The Strollers had.”

Speaking of tourism in Bermuda today, Mr Ming told me: “I think we made some errors by taking the local entertainment out of the hotels. 

“It was nice to see some overseas entertainers we had some really good island music that is what is missing. We have our own little culture.” 

Tributes to Raymond Ming

Honour: Raymond Ming receives his Belco VIP Award from then Premier Dr Ewart Brown. *Photo supplied

Sir John Swan always checked in on Mr Ming when he was young and encouraged him. He said: “I became acquainted with Ray Ming when he was employed at Archie Brown’s retail store, where he was always immaculately dressed. 

“In subsequent years, I have seen him develop as unofficial ambassador for Bermuda. He was a well-informed  individual who shared his helpful, friendly characteristics with people, both home and abroad.”

• Radha Arora, President and CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts said: “You have exemplified many things — your commitment to go above and beyond to serve every guest, the ability to build a friendship with the guests without ever overstepping the boundaries and reflecting the
wonderful genuine and warm
hospitality of the Bermudian people... “So thank you Ray, not only from Rosewood Hotels but also from the thousands of guests with whom you have left so many indelible memories. 

“Not only is Rosewood sadder at your departure but the whole tourism industry on the island. Weve lost a shining star.”

• Paul Telford is Hotel Manager at Rosewood Tucker’s Point. He said: “Ray taught me so many things about the hospitality industry, some of which I’d never seen before in my travels to distant shores. To have worked with him is an honour and a joy. Ray defines everything that is summed up in the frequently used term, Bermudian hospitality. If you need to experience Bermudian
hospitality to know it, start with Ray.“

• Matthew Lewis worked with Mr Ming as a shuttle driver at Tucker’s Point and calls Mr Ming his “Pops”. He said: “Mr Ming is one of the
nicest, most hard-working people I know. He’s one of the most experienced people in the industry. He has done so much in his life, he is definitely the person to know — it’s an honour knowing him. 

“He is the most influential person I’ve met in the industry — he’s the best with the guests, he always has a story to tell. He has great interaction with the guests, he is genuine — it’s not like he’s just talking to them trying to get a tip, he’s not in it for that he’s more in it just for the fact that, he’s making them happy versus anything monetary.” 

See the Bermuda Sun next week for the second installment. For more stories like these follow @sarahlaganlife on Twitter