I think I first saw her, about fifty years ago, on a platform at Devonshire Rec. She was making a speech about politics and stuff, but I was more impressed by the fervour and imagery of her speech. Leap forward many years and I saw her again, inside Alaska Hall on the night of 9th November 1998.
This time I saw a woman who was just wide-eyed with happiness. Her dream of a PLP election victory had come true. What she had worked for, for so long, had finally happened.
Later, the next year, after she had accepted the Royal Honour and had become Dame Lois Browne-Evans, DBE; I came upon her at a reception at Government House. She was sitting down. She was greeting and being greeted by every one who came past.
I muscled in, knelt down, grabbed her, and gave her a big hug, and I said, “Thank you for all that you’ve done.” I took the opportunity to congratulate her on the award of the Royal Honour of Dame of the British Empire. I pointed out that I thought that the award was well deserved as it placed her in Bermuda’s pantheon of heroes and heroines; and that her own family had been given a form of national recognition that showed some kind of national gratitude. I ended by saying that the award was a very small payback for all the silent and hidden sacrifices that she and her family had made.
I also said that future generations of Bermuda would remember her more easily and would see her raised to the same, or higher, levels as all those other past leaders.
I’m glad now that I did that. I’m glad that I thanked her that day.
Dame Lois – or as many knew her, “Browne-Evans” – will be missed, and missed terribly. The old warhorse has gone on; but she has left a big trail.