Bradley Roberts, a former minister of works and utilities, chairman emeritus of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and firebrand politician, died at his home in Skyline Heights yesterday afternoon.
He was 74.
Roberts entered frontline politics in 1977 when he contested the Shirlea constituency against Sir Roland Symonette.
He was later elected to the House of Assembly in 1982 where he served until 2007, representing the Grants Town constituency.
Roberts served as chairman of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, the Gaming Board, the New Providence Port Authority, the Housing Commission and the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
A businessman by profession, he served on other boards as well and was one of the Sunshine Boys – a group of young, black Bahamian entrepreneurs who created several businesses in the early 1970s.
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis, who visited Roberts’ home after his death, said this is a “heart wrenching” loss for the party.
Davis said Roberts started his day like any other, with his usual morning walk followed by his usual visit to Starbucks for coffee.
He said sometime later, Roberts was found by his wife slumped inside his shower.
Once he was pronounced dead by paramedics, a priest blessed his body, The Nassau Guardian understands.
As news of the death spread, scores of PLPs, relatives and others showed up at Roberts’ home.
Some wept as they walked up his driveway.
Others held each other.
“‘Big Bad Brad’ is now taking his rest from the toils and labors of this earth,” Davis said.
“I got the news during my lunch. I was called and [told] that he had fallen out and that he may have passed. I came up as quickly as I could to discover that that in fact was true.
“He’s had a long life of contributing to our society, particularly to those in the inner city.
“As you all know, he represented all of the iconic inner-city communities of our country in Grants Town and Bains Town and has always been a friend of the downtrodden, a strong and mighty voice for those who are oppressed and he always came to the fore for the poor.”
Davis remembered Roberts as one of his most faithful supporters.
“It is heart wrenching for all of us because this is a major loss for all of us,” Davis said.
“Bradley would want us to pick up the mantle that he has left.
“He was a good friend, a mentor and one of my strongest supporters.
“He gave me good advice and was always there for me when I needed him.”
PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said, “We [in] the PLP are enormously grateful for his life of service and the patriotism which he displayed and his love of party.”
Shortly after, a Bethel Brothers’ hearse carried Roberts’ body away from his home. A woman could be heard sobbing from the house, screaming, “Oh, Bradley.”
Many of the visitors, who included former PLP Cabinet ministers Keith Bell, Mitchell and others, then left.
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie joined the departing crowd.
“My wife came home this morning to tell me that she met Bradley on the beach exercising,” Christie said.
“I told her I saw him yesterday. So, it was a shock when she called to say that, ‘Have you heard that Bradley passed?’
“I said, ‘Not Bradley Roberts.’
“She said, ‘Yes.’
“I said that it is so significant to me because Bradley, much to my amazement, was a few months younger than me.
“His birthday is on Christmas Day, December 25, and mine is in August, both of us being 75.
“I said, ‘No. Not this.’
“So, my initial reaction was one of absolute shock.”
Christie said Roberts was a defining personality in politics because he demonstrated a commitment to integrity and was the “quintessential family man”.
“…God blessed him with a background to have means when he came into politics,” he said.
“He was not a person who was struggling to make ends meet when he came into politics.”
The former prime minister added that Roberts was a party loyalist and one of its greatest defenders.
“I think the mantra of ‘Big Bad Brad’ came about because of his fearless advocacy,” Christie said.
“He was never afraid to take on the greatest of political challenges and the greatest of political foes.
“That made him a real politician of the era.”
Christie lamented, “A colleague has fallen, one who has given much to my personal cause to assist me in becoming the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party and the leader of the country, prime minister; one who served me in every which way with great loyalty and great integrity; one who was respected, whatever people thought of him.”
In a statement last night, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said, “Roberts contributed in various ways to our national development, and was known for his strong opinions on the issues of the day.”
Minnis also spoke of Roberts’ dedication to the PLP.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Roberts will be remembered for his support in advancing Bahamians in all walks of life.
In a statement, he expressed shock over Roberts’ passing and offered sympathies to his family.
“Bradley entered the political fray early in life and remained committed to the end, notwithstanding his retirement from the political front lines since 2012,” Ingraham said.
“He will be remembered as a firebrand politician, single-minded and resolute in his support for his political party and for the causes in which he believed.
“His contribution to the development of our country, both within his party and in the Parliament, is a matter of record.”
He is survived by his wife, Hartlyn, and three children.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English