Tributes: Mildred Bean. *File photo
Tributes: Mildred Bean. *File photo

The mother of Bermuda’s first woman Premier and a sitting OBA Minister has died.

Mildred Bean, part of a political dynasty and mother of Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks and Health Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin, was 88.

Dame Pamela, who led the last UBP Government, said: “She guided me by leaving me enough slack on the rope to allow my mistakes but was always there to rein me in when I stumbled and fell. 

“At those times, she held the slack tight. My mother never let me feel sorry for myself, she always challenged me to do better, to be better.”

 Dame Pamela added: “My ascent in politics was a very proud period for my mom. I think it rekindled in her the memories of when my Dad was alive and the fight he had in him.

“She told me she saw the same fight in me. What a compliment coming from the strongest, take-no-nonsense person I have ever known.

“I am fortunate to have had this grounded, ethical, solid powerhouse of a woman, who truly loved her family, as my mother.”  

Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin added: “My mom was absolutely amazing — she struggled, but she did not allow anything to compromise her ability to look after her children. She did everything — she was just an amazing woman and a strong disciplinarian. I got more than my fair share of licks coming up. She was a caring, compassionate, determined woman — sassy and classy.

“She did a good job — she taught us to live with integrity and she was a good role model in that regard. Those were the qualities we grew up with.”

And Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “If I can be to my children half of what my mother was to us, then my kids will be fine.”

Ms Bean was the long-time partner of pioneering politician, trades unionist and civil rights campaigner Dr EF Gordon.

Ms Bean and Dr Gordon had five children, although they never married as Dr Gordon, who was separated from his first wife, was Catholic and unable to divorce.

Ms Bean is survived by Dame Pamela, Ms Gordon-Pamplin and son Keith Gordon. Two other children, Olympia Corrent, who was also in politics as a UBP branch chairman and Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon, predeceased her.

Dame Pamela became the first woman Premier in 1997 after she was elected to lead the then-UBP, a position she held until the PLP won the 1998 General Election. She was also the youngest Premier in the island’s history.

Ms Bean brought the couple’s family up on her own after Dr Gordon died in 1955 while she was pregnant with Dame Pamela.

She often worked three or four jobs at time to support the family. Among the posts she held were as a switchboard operator at a hotel and also worked at the Bermuda Telephone Company, where she was a shop steward.

She later worked in the Moonglow restaurant and bar in St George’s, which was owned by Dame Pamela.

Although she left school early, as was common in the 1930s, she taught herself typing and shorthand and also completed a certificate and a diploma in supervisory management at Bermuda College.

Ms Bean, who latterly was resident in the Matilda Smith Williams Nursing Home, continued to live until recently at the family home she had shared with Dr Gordon, Beulah, in Hamilton.

Ms Pamplin-Gordon said the funeral service, at St Paul AME Church on Court St, Hamilton on Monday, was attended by Premier Craig Cannonier, most of the Cabinet, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, senior Civil Servants and former MPs.

She added: “People flew in from abroad as well — we were extremely touched and she had a good send-off.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “She would want to be remembered as a formidable, caring and compassionate woman because that’s what she was.”

She added that St Paul AME minister, the Rev. Nicholas Tweed, told the congregation that Ms Bean had suffered criticism because of her relationship with Dr Gordon, whose principled and courageous stance on union and civil rights was regarded as controversial at the time.

But Ms Pamplin-Gordon said: “She was strong enough in her personality — she didn’t care what people thought.”