J. Barrie Farrington dies at 85

J. Barrie Farrington, the veteran hotelier whose decades-long involvement in The Bahamas tourism industry made him an icon, died on Tuesday.

He was 85.

Farrington, an avid sportsman and lover of the outdoors and travel, battled several different types of cancer over the years.

In 2018, he wrote about his experiences with leukemia, breast and prostate cancer, saying, “I maintain my faith in a future in which I can continue to have a positive influence upon those who are near to me and in some small measure, provide assistance to those who are in need.

“I feel confident that while the cancers have been neutralized, I am able to live a normal life.”

In 2019, he advised that he was fighting a fourth version of cancer but remained optimistic and enthusiastic throughout the journey, traveling with his wife, Susan, and spending quality time with his children and grandchildren.

Farrington had been a fixture at Atlantis and its various predecessor resorts.

He had been a part of the management of the hotel properties at Paradise Island over the many transitions and decades.

Audrey Oswell, president of Atlantis, said the entire company is saddened and heartbroken by Farrington’s passing.

“JB, as he was affectionately called, had a deep and abiding love for tourism throughout The Bahamas and was instrumental in the development and expansion of it,” Oswell said in a statement.

“He was an inspiration to all of us who were fortunate enough to have worked alongside him and could refer to him as a friend. At his retirement farewell in 2013, Sir Sol Kerzner praised JB for his immeasurable contribution to the success of Atlantis.

“We are so thankful and grateful to this tourism pioneer, who chartered the course of The Bahamas becoming an international destination. His legacy lives on and he will forever be an important part of the Atlantis family.”

On the occasion of Farrington’s retirement from Kerzner International in 2013, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, “J. Barrie has always been of the school which maintains that men don’t quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”

He noted that Farrington developed and maintained an excellent relationship with the leadership of the hotel union for whom he always demonstrated great respect.

Farrington had a longtime friendship with former hotel union president, Thomas Bastian, who died last month.

At the retirement event for Farrington, Ingraham said, “Over the years, Barrie has also been instrumental in fostering productive and collaborative relationships between the owners and operators of the resort properties on Paradise Island with the government of the day.

“He was an early Bahamian success story in hotel management and administration and his contribution to the Bahamianization of the senior management of international hotels operating in The Bahamas has been far-reaching.”

He observed that Farrington had not only been a leader in the tourism and hotel sector, he was a political candidate, a successful entrepreneur, manufacturer and a consummate civic-minded citizen.

Then-Prime Minister Perry Christie said at that event, which was also attended by Farrington’s close friend, hotel mogul the late Sol Kerzner, “Barrie’s record of longevity speaks to the consistently high degree of reliance that successive resort owners on Paradise Island have placed on him and his wisdom and skills over the years.”

Farrington had remained through six changes of resort ownership and four changes of government.

In a statement yesterday, Robert “Sandy” Sands, president of The Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, said, “We will be forever grateful to Barrie for his contributions to the tourism industry and to organizations such as ours. He was highly respected as a seasoned professional with a formidable understanding of the business of tourism.”

 Sands added, “Barrie will also be remembered for his patience, his elegance and the dignified manner in which he treated others. Barrie was ‘old school’, yet he understood that with progress, came change and adaptation.

 “Barrie was a masterful tactician; bound by the highest ethical standards; and inherently endowed with authentic, genuine empathy and insight; his guidance and advice were often sought when key tourism-related matters were being discussed at the highest level.

“Barrie’s influence on the trajectory of our tourism industry is immeasurable. Moreover, Barrie was a friend and mentor to so many, including myself.”

Farrington was chairman on many boards and committees, including Bahamasair and the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.

He received numerous honors and recognition over the years.

In 1995, he was named Hotelier of the Year.

In 1997, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II honored him with the prestigious title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Farrington received the Clement T. Maynard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of tourism.

He was a lifetime director of the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association.

He served as president of the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association for 31 years, chairman of the Bahamas Hotel Industry Management Pension Fund for seven years and a trustee of the Bahamas Hotel Allied Industries Pension Fund for more than 30 years.

In his memoir, “The Commander of Hawkins Hill”, Farrington, who often with a chuckle referred to himself as “Commander” or “Superman”, said his passage through life covering decades had been anything but ordinary.

“Unquestionably through full participation in life’s adventures, I have been able to gather and absorb pathways to actively shaping fundamental tenets of our everyday human existence,” he said.

Sharing “the ways that helped me over time reach a better place in life”, Farrington urged, “Spend as much time with your family as you can and build happy memories because our loved ones are not going to be around forever.”

He also advised, among other recommendations, “Offer a helping hand or a kind word to those who have suffered due to harsh circumstances outside of their control.”

Farrington urged, “Through selflessness, reach out to assist others and it will make you feel good…Develop every relationship with respect and dignity, irrespective of someone’s station in life.”

He also advised, “Don’t be afraid of your mortality – it exists. All the time you have can be used for great purpose if you are emotionally and physically committed.”

Farrington is survived by his wife, Susan; children John (Donnae); Scott (Margo); Bruce (Amy); Robyn (Javier Avila); his brother, Ramon; sister-in-law, Melanie; and other relatives.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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