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Final farewell to Bishop Eldon

Friends, family and followers filled Christ Church Cathedral yesterday to remember the life of Bishop Michael Hartley Eldon, retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. Several commonalities about him underpinned every tribute.

First was his amazing memory, which was said to be envied by politicians. But exceedingly resounding were the stories of his gentle, optimistic and inspiring nature, which made him popular and very much loved.

Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, who paid tribute to Bishop Eldon and his family on behalf of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, spoke of his love and popularity across the country.

“He mirrored this love with his prodigious ability to remember names and faces, family connections and histories and he knew just about every settlement across our archipelago,”Sir Arthur said.

“Indeed those of us who sought a vocation in political life were envious of this talent and speculated about what he would have brought to the political arena had he so chosen.

“He was not a man who would succumb to despair or cynicism. Even when he spoke about our individual and corporate failings, he never gave way to negativity nor did he indulge in stridency.”

Education was another common theme, as speaker after speaker reminisced on Bishop Eldon’s early days at The College of The Bahamas.

In 1975 he was appointed to serve as founding chairman of the Council of The College of The Bahamas where he served for 20 years. In those years Eldon oversaw the development of the institution from a community college to a four-year college and laid the foundation for its accession to a university.

College Council Chairman T. Baswell Donaldson heralded Bishop Eldon’s work with the college and lauded his accomplishments in his tribute yesterday.

“By the time Bishop Eldon completed his service in 1995, the college was on the eve of its historic autonomy,”said Donaldson.

He insisted that while Bishop Eldon left an indelible mark on tertiary education in The Bahamas, his legacy transcends even that.

“In his living, in the great giving that has defined his life, his bequest is boundless,”Donaldson said.

“Bishop Eldon’s bequest to us are standards of excellence, perseverance and the indomitable spirit of hope.”

In 2004, Bishop Eldon was bestowed the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus of The College of The Bahamas.

In 2006, the very first structural acquisition of the independent College of The Bahamas, which houses the faculty of education and social studies as well as a book store, was named in Bishop Eldon’s honor.

“Bishop Eldon’s name and legacy will be forever linked to The College of The Bahamas, and fittingly so,”Donaldson said.

“Because institutions are like living, breathing organisms, it’s in constant evolution and its boundless wealth transcends generations. So too will the life and legacy of Bishop Eldon.”

That legacy similarly belonged to Bishop Eldon’s sister, Dr. Keva Bethel, who passed away early yesterday morning, only hours before her brother’s funeral. She was the first president of The College of The Bahamas.

Hundreds of on-lookers gathered on Bay Street following the funeral service to watch Bishop Eldon’s final pass through Nassau in a procession befitting the retired Anglican bishop.

The procession ended at St. Mary’s Parish where Eldon’s father was once a devoted member.

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