Joyful moment: In April this year, Mr. Bascome was delighted to cradle ‘Somers,’ the first Cahow chick born on Nonsuch Island since 1620. *File photo
Joyful moment: In April this year, Mr. Bascome was delighted to cradle ‘Somers,’ the first Cahow chick born on Nonsuch Island since 1620. *File photo
The devastated widow of Minister Nelson Bascome has revealed her heartache at his sudden death.

The popular 53-year-old passed away yesterday during a trip to the U.S.

Last night, Sherline Bascome said: "From what we've heard, it was a heart attack.

"We had been on vacation at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and I had flown back to Bermuda yesterday afternoon.

"He had carried on to Baltimore for business in Maryland."

Mrs. Bascome described her husband as a dedicated "community man".

She added: "He loved his community and loved his people.

"All he wanted was what was best for the people. He was a praying man, which is exactly what we are doing now to get us through this.

"It's what makes me able to talk to you right now. I wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't through prayer."

Prayer played a major part in Mr. Bascome's life.

'Trust in the Lord'

His wife revealed he was particularly fond of one passage in the Bible, which he marked in every copy in their home.

It was Proverbs Three, Five and Six, which state: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight."

Mrs. Bascome said: "He always directed his life on that, always.

"He never waivered from that."

The couple had three children together - Nelson, Shirnae and Madison.

Tributes honouring Minister Bascome's memory poured in from friends and colleagues yesterday.

From the Premier to members of the Opposition, the sentiment is the same - Bermuda has lost a hard-working, compassionate public servant.

Minister Bascome's close friend and fellow MP Derrick Burgess described him as "community-minded", "friendly" and "well-liked".

He added: "I'm really broken up right now, devastated.

"He was one of my closest friends. We had fun together, told jokes.

"He was a very likeable person with a good Christian heart - a Christian heart he carried wherever he went.

"He was always one of those people who just wanted peace and harmony among all men.

"He was approachable, friendly and well-liked by all.

"Nelson was like family to me and I will never forget him."

Mr. Burgess, Works and Engineering Minister, claims his colleague will leave a strong legacy as a loyal PLP supporter.

He said: "I think his biggest moment as an MP was in 1998 when we won the election.

"Nelson was probably one of the youngest people to be elected to parliament."

Premier Ewart Brown revealed that Minister Bascome was "more than a fellow Minister".

He added: "He was my friend, my golfing buddy and confidante.

"He served this country with distinction and made his local community a richer place through his unwavering community spirit.

Heartfelt condolences

"At this time words are difficult to come by, so I can only express the heartfelt condolences of the Government and the people of Bermuda to his wife, his children and grandchildren and to his entire family."

In tribute to Minister Bascome's memory, the Premier has ordered that all the flags on every Government building be flown at half mast today, as they were yesterday.

Leader of the Opposition, Kim Swan, also gave his condolences to the Bascome family on behalf of the UBP.

He said: "My colleagues and I were all shocked and dismayed to learn of the passing of the Minister of Health, the Hon Nelson Bascome.

"Personally, I always admired Nelson's connection with the community through numerous organizations, most notably the Devonshire Colts Football Club, the North Village Marching Band or the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, in all of which he was dedicated, committed and well regarded by his peers.

"Nelson's sudden passing reiterates the sad truth that tomorrow is promised to no one."

Mr. Swan's fellow party member Louise Jackson, Shadow Minister for Health and Seniors, revealed she was also "absolutely distraught" to hear of Minister Bascome's passing.

She said: "I have known Nelson since he was 11 years old.

"My husband was very good friends with his mother and father and they came to visit us, with Nelson, while we lived in England.

"His death is a major shock to us both.

"We had different political views and sometimes the cut and thrust of politics gives the impression that politicians of different parties are not on friendly terms.

"But Nelson and I often worked together. I could ring him with a problem and he would deal with it.

"He was very amenable to helping and was always open to new ideas."

Former Culture Minister Dale Butler told how one of the things he admired most about Minister Bascome was his "conviction to ordinary people".

He said: "Just walking around Bermuda today people have stopped me on the street and given me hugs. The people are just really feeling it.

"The victory he had year after year proved he had really endeared himself to the community. The people supported him.

"He was very passionate about helping young people and very committed to his portfolio.

"He was very decent, caring, honest and hard-working and will be sadly missed."

Mr. Butler believes Mr. Bascome's greatest contributions as Health Minister are "moving the hospital plan forward" and "starting Future Care".

Former Minister Randy Horton travelled on the same plane to the U.S. with Mr. Bascome last Wednesday.

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

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

"He was always very connected to the people."

Warren Jones, Permanent Secretary of Health, also expressed his shock upon hearing the sad news.

Mr. Jones said: "The family at the Ministry of Health sends its sincere condolences to the Bascome family.

"As we navigate through the shock and pain of our loss, we recognize it is minimal by comparison to yours.

"The family will remain steadfastly in our thoughts and prayers."

Mr. Jones visited the various sections of the Ministry yesterday and witnessed the "emotional toll" it has taken on Ministry staff.

The Cabinet Office is inviting members of the public to sign a condolence book, which will be presented to the family of the late Minister.

It will be available at the Cabinet Office from today until the day before the Minister's funeral, which is not yet known.

The Cabinet Office is open to the public weekdays from 8:30am to 5:30pm.