Tennyson Wells, a former member of Parliament who was a “tenacious and fearless warrior”, died at home in his sleep yesterday morning.
He was 72.
Tennyson Wells Jr. said his father had been fighting several illnesses.
Wells, who represented Bamboo Town, also served as the attorney general and minister of agriculture and fisheries in the Ingraham administration.
Wells, one of the founding members of the Free National Movement (FNM), eventually left the party and later became an independent representative for Bamboo Town in 2002.
The attorney and businessman ultimately found his way back to the party, and in the run up to the 2017 election, threw his support behind FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.
In a statement, Minnis described Wells as a patriot.
“He did not just sit on the sideline and complain about what was wrong with The Bahamas,” Minnis said.
“He offered himself for public life, made a contribution and had a distinguished career. A longstanding FNM, he was part of the first Free National Movement administration in 1992, which helped to renew Bahamian democracy.
“…He played a role in the work of the FNM administrations, which oversaw vibrant growth in the economy; infrastructural improvements across the archipelago; greater participation for women in senior roles of government; the freeing of the broadcast media and more fairness in accessing opportunity for more Bahamians.”
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, “Tennyson held strong views and was a tenacious and fearless warrior in garnering support for them… I will always appreciate the contributions he made to many of the policies put in place by the FNM in government.
“Tennyson was politically ambitious. His resignation from Cabinet to pursue the leadership of his party eventually led to a parting in our political ways, but did not diminish my opinion of him as a man dedicated to the advancement of the Bahamian people and of our country.
“He will be remembered for his forthrightness, his determination and his many contributions to his constituents in Bamboo Town and also to Long Island, the island of his heritage for which he carried a special torch.”
In February 2018, Minnis appointed Wells president and chairman of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI). He had developed a roadmap for BAMSI intended to help reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said Wells served BAMSI and the nation well.
“Wells charted a bold new course for the institute to revamp its operational model, streamline spending and build its economic base for the future,” Pintard said.
“His strategy included a substantial increase in production to both balance the level of spending and to allow for the human resource element to be better deployed.”
Pintard described Wells as a “true statesman”.
“To say his passing was a shock is an understatement, having spoken to him just yesterday,” Pintard continued.
“Mr. Wells…was a husband, father and grandfather who saw his role as a nation builder as his number one priority and he acted on that objective in every role he served in.”
Jerome Knowles, who was friends with Wells for over 50 years, said he visited him in hospital last week and prayed with him.
He said Wells was instructed to seek treatment abroad, but opted to seek care at Doctors Hospital.
Knowles said Wells was in good spirits and talked about the exceptional service he’d received there.
He said Wells also talked about experiencing a spiritual encounter.
“My heart went out to Tennyson,” Knowles said. “This big, strong man, so humble. But it just goes to show us that God is still in control.
“…He is a man of good standing,” Knowles added, “a man with a good heart. Most people see him differently, but those who were really attached to him know what he was… A man who cared.
“He’s not one who goes around blowing the trumpets, but he goes around and he does his thing quietly.”
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said, “As a policymaker, a Cabinet minister, a statutory board chairman and successful entrepreneur in his own right, Mr. Wells made a significant contribution to the public life and development of our country. He was a good man who loved The Bahamas and did his part to make our country a better place.”
Wells is survived by his wife, Stephanie, and three children.