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Kirby Brackstone (1969-2012) R.I.P.
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // October 23, 2012 // Absent Friends, Wednesday Nights // Comments Off on Kirby Brackstone (1969-2012) R.I.P.
Well known businessman, 43, dies of heart attack
(The Royal Gazette, Bermuda) Prominent Bermudian businessman Kirby Brackstone has died suddenly at his Paget home, of a suspected heart attack, at the age of 43.
According to his wife Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, Mr Brackstone had became unwell on Friday at his Hamilton business, Games and Flix on Dundonald Street.
“He went to sleep and died peacefully on Friday afternoon,” said Mrs Ramsay-Brackstone, adding that her husband had been in especially high spirits after his birthday two days earlier.
The two became co-owners of the Bermuda Perfumery in 2004, relocating the business to St George’s. Mr Brackstone also championed the Old Town as Chairman of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s East End Division from 2008 to 2010.
An advisor to the Chamber of Commerce’s Economics Committee, Mr Brackstone had been preparing to deliver the annual presentation to fellow members on the state of the Island’s economy.
His wife last night recalled him as a man who “loved being involved in the community”, and who was deeply attached to their Church, St Michael’s in Paget — where a service will be held for him this Friday at 1pm.
“My husband’s greatest legacy is his love of life,” Mrs Ramsay-Brackstone said. “He gave a father to my children, and they know that daddy’s job on Earth is done. My husband was a wonderful, spiritual man.”
Along with his wife, Mr Brackstone was closely involved in St George’s Preparatory School, which eldest daughter Marie-Sophie, 11, attended, and where daughter Gabrielle, 9, and son William, 8t, continue to be schooled.
Across the Island, friends and businessmen were stunned at his sudden death.
“This is indeed a tremendous shock to all of us,” said Peter Everson, who worked with Mr Brackstone on the Chamber of Commerce’s Economics Committee. “Kirby had a great passion for seeing Bermuda improve as an economy and a place to live for all Bermudians.”
Mr Everson recalled a man passionately driven to research the committee’s paper on public debt management, presented to Government earlier this year — a complex topic navigated in a four-page report.
Said Chamber of Commerce executive director Joanne MacPhee: “Kirby was a soft-spoken man of unassuming intelligence and dignity, and he will be greatly missed by colleagues and friends.”
Also dabbling in politics, Mr Kirby managed the 2007 campaign of Hamilton South MP Darius Tucker, then a United Bermuda Party candidate.
“Kirby was one of the good ones,” Mr Tucker said.
“He had no problem engaging with any part of the political spectrum. He was ideal for me as a first-time candidate — he was a family man who understood when I couldn’t go canvassing because I had to be with my family.”
He added: “They were a bilingual household. Isabelle spoke to the children in French, and Kirby spoke to them in English.”
Mr Brackstone made an unsuccessful 2009 bid for alderman on the Corporation of St George’s, but Mr Tucker remembered him as “vital in revitalising the St George’s Chamber of Commerce — he was instrumental in getting that up and running”.
He was also a contender for chairman of the United Bermuda Party, again without success, in 2008.
Former UBP leader Kim Swan paid tribute to a man who had been “very interested in serving the Party at a higher level”, adding: “More than that, he was a very nice person.”
“He and his wife made a great contribution, particularly through business, to our tourism product in St George’s.”
Businessman Kirby Brackstone capably united the business factions of St George’s in the best interests of the East End.
He was recalled by Cheryl Chew-Hayward, former chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s East Division, which Mr Brackstone proved instrumental in reviving.
In 2008, she said, with that division no longer operating, “Kirby and a group of St George’s businesses came together to form the St Goerge’s Business Group, representing all area businesses who wished to join efforts with them”.
They were particularly concerned with the decline in East End business as the Old Town lost cruise ship service.
Their efforts drew the attention of the Chamber of Commerce, who asked them to resurrect the East End Division.
Ms Chew-Hayward said: “Kirby stepped forward to be the first Chairman in a number of years in the East, and successfully put the East End Division back on the map.
“In 2010, Kirby passed the mantle to me,” she said.
“I found Kirby to be a person dedicated to the community, who believed with inclusion and working together, St George’s would be successful.”
Leslie Kirby Brackstone was the son of Ellen and Raymond Brackstone. Bermuda-born, he was carried by his banking work to Montreal, where he met his French Canadian wife. The two were married in 1999, and lived together in Toronto until 2003, when they came to Bermuda.
Mr Brackstone worked at Butterfield Bank before embarking on his own business in 2008.
His wife offered thanks for the support the family have received, especially from their Hungry Bay, Paget neighbours.
“Bermuda gives so much hope,” she said. “People here at Hungry Bay have been like family to us.”
See also Wednesday-Night.com
At Mass on Sunday, we bore witness to a baptism and welcomed a new Child of God into the community and parish – a lovely new tradition in our Catholic Church that previously kept the baptismal rites separate and limited to family, godparents and a few close friends.
For me, it was an unexpected and poignant reminder of your baptism in Hamilton (Ontario) and the role of godmother that I was honoured to have confided in me by your parents, our dear friends, Raymond and Ellen.
I held you in my arms that afternoon and was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility for some undetermined aspect of your future.
Time passed. We were not living in the same city or province, but caught fleeting glimpses of you when Raymond and Ellen brought you to visit. For many years, I treasured in my mind’s eye the photo of you and Jordan in your PJs (age 3 or perhaps 4?) sitting with your father on the stairs of our house – you are wide-eyed, looking seriously and calmly to the future, ready for whatever it might bring.
Occasional trips to Toronto afforded opportunities to see you as you grew to a charming boy and then a young man, always ready for a long chat with your Aunt Diana who waged an underground campaign to wean you from the conservative camp and lead you to the light of a more Liberal view of the world of politics. I was thrilled when Ellen informed me that you would really like a biography of JFK for your birthday, and promptly obliged.
And then, happy day! A career move brought you to Montreal and to stay with us while you found your feet. It was a wonderful time to get to know one another, to share ideas and intimate – sometimes passionate – conversations with you and some of our friends lasting long after the dinner hour. You had grown up to be the young man whose promise we had seen in that early photo – serious and calm, but with a passionate love of life and commitment to making the world a better place, a tribute to your loving upbringing by Raymond and Ellen.
We are truly grateful for that opportunity to appreciate at first hand your many qualities.
I still did not feel very godmotherly – I had not played any real part in your development into the fine young man you had become. And you really did not want my advice on personal matters. For the record, neither did my own children.
But, the best was yet to come and at last, I was able to wave a magic wand.
Our lovely young friend Isabelle Ramsay, whom you had met briefly at one of our Wednesday Nights, moved to Toronto and shortly afterwards, Raymond and Ellen invited her to dinner.
You returned to Toronto and …
What a wonderful, joyous wedding! What a beautiful couple – you, the serious, tall, dark, and handsome groom, Isabelle the beautiful, vivacious, petite and emotional blonde. A perfect blend of the two cultures so important to the Canadian soul. How honoured I was to be asked to give one of the readings and thus be a part of the ceremony launching your life with Isabelle that would bring so much happiness to you both and would bring Marie-Sophie, Gabrielle and William into the world.
I treasure the photo of the three of us taken in the Ritz Garden that day.
We were concerned when you decided to leave Canada to make your life in Bermuda, but as we followed your accomplishments in the business world, and even more importantly, in the community, we know that you made the right decision for you, for your family and for Bermuda. How proud you have made your parents, and all of us, who love you so much.
Darling Kirby, you have left us far too soon. There was so much more that you would have done. But The Lord in His wisdom has taken you to one of His many mansions.
We share the sorrow and sense of loss with Isabelle, your children, Raymond, Ellen, Jordan, the Ramsay family and your many, many friends, but do so in the confidence that you will watch over your beloved family with all the love and care that you have showed when you were physically present.
God Bless you, and, in my father’s favorite words: “Fair winds, following seas and happy landings”.
With our love and prayers,
Aunt Diana and David