Nelson Bascome, who has died overseas.
Nelson Bascome, who has died overseas.
TUESDAY, JULY 15: Health Minister Nelson Bascome has passed away while on a trip to the U.S..

"He has gone too soon," said PLP MP and friend Randy Horton.

Mr. Horton had travelled on the same plane with Mr. Bascome last Wednesday as both left Bermuda for the U.S: "He was heading to New York for a vacation.

"I'm so shocked, so shocked," Mr. Horton said. "I loved to work with Nelson. He was a good friend and I'm deeply, deeply sad that he's gone too soon.

"I offer full condolences to Shirlene and his family.

"Nelson's been a hard working cabinet minister from day one. He first joined the Cabinet when the PLP won power in '98. He's been a great colleague."

Mr. Horton said Mr. Bascome had many great characteristics and was able to connect to the common man.

"Nelson was always very forthright. The Health Ministry was a tough ministry but he's never afraid to tackle the issues.

"He was always very connected to the people."

Nelson Blake Ainsworth Bascome Jr was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1989 for the constituency of Pembroke East. He was re-elected in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2007. Mr. Bascome was first sworn in as Minister on November 10, 1998.

Mr. Bascome's early education in Bermuda was at Prospect Primary School, Whitney Institute High School and the Bermuda College. In 1976 he achieved an associated Degree in Dental Technology from Kerpel School of Dental Technology in New York, and a Bachelor's Degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1980. Mr. Bascome returned home to be employed and continued his studies, obtaining a Master's Degree from Webster and Indiana Universities in 1985. In 1993 he was the first Bermudian to become a Certified Employee Assistance Professional and established the first drug-free sports policy in Bermuda.

Mr. Bascome began his professional career as a Residential Treatment Officer and a Social Assistance Worker in the Bermuda Government. In 1985 he became the Head Social Worker at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. He then joined Benedict Associates as an Employee Assistance Counselor & Consultant. In 1996 he was employed as the Director of Treatment for the Salvation Army Treatment and Rehabilitation Programme for Men and Aftercare Programs. In 1997 he was amongst the first Bermudians to achieve the professional designations of Certified Clinical Supervisor and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the addictions field. In 2004 he joined Focus Counseling Service.

Mr. Bascome spearheaded the formation of several community and service. Friswell's Hill United, a neighbourhood community service organisation formed in 1985, has served the community with a developed neighbourhood programme that promoted community and cultural events. From 1985, Mr. Bascome taught the youth of the Pembroke Community Club Drum Corps through parades and concerts.

Mr. Bascome coached the Devonshire Colts Junior Soccer team; he was co-founder of 100 Black Men of Bermuda, and a member of the Community Advice Centre that provides free legal counsel. Mr. Bascome organised the support group Single Parents in Action that deals with the issues of single families. He also dedicated his time to the Venturilla Summer School for Boys, the People's Movement, St. Monica's Social Action Committee, and served as a Lecturer in Addiction Studies at the Bermuda College.

Mr. Bascome was a trustee of his Alma Mata, Whitney Institute School and served on several national bodies. He had been Vice-Chair of the Bermuda Addictions Certification Board and the Bermuda Social Work Council. He also served on the executive of the Bermuda Football Association.

Mr. Bacome was a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a founder of the Bermuda Alumni Chapter.

Mr. Bascome earned several Appreciation and Community Awards. The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) Most Outstanding Young Person in 1987; the Bermuda Times' Man of the Year in 1995 are two that he was proud of. He represented Bermuda at Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences in Zimbabwe, Africa, the Cayman Islands and at the British Commonwealth Office on Westminster Affairs in the UK.

Mr. Bascome also served as the Shadow Minister of Youth Development, Sports and Recreation. He served as Chairman of the Board of Education, the Parole Board and the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee.

In his professional life, Mr. Bascome was affiliated with the Employee Assistance Programmes of America; Executive Leadership & Cultural Diversity Institute, USA; Black Alcoholism Institute, USA; Athletes Assistance & Counseling Services, Bda; and Counseling Consultants Incorporated, Bda.

Mr. Bascome leaves a wife Shirlene and three children.