Retired Inspector Edward Hubert Lancelot Simmons, passed away in his 90th year on December 27th 2014. At the time of his passing, Hubert was our senior retired police officer having joined the Bermuda Police as a young constable in June 1950.
Hubert was universally loved and respected by all who knew him and those who served with him in the Police Force.
Hubert was born on February 25, 1925, the oldest of 9 children born to Ronald and Inez Simmons. He grew up on North Shore Road in Pembroke, but his family later moved to Scaur Hill, and then to Ely’s Harbour.
He attended Tin Top School as a child, and at a young age, due to the death of his father, he had to discontinue his education in order to work and assist his mother with the support of his family. His early employment was at the Dockyard working in the generating station, but he made a dramatic change to his career path when he joined the Police Force in June 1950.
As with all local recruits at that time, Hubert would have received the barest minimum of training, just a few days at Hamilton Police Station reading law books, and then it was out on beat patrol in Central Division (Hamilton). Times were changing slowly for local recruits and young P.C. Simmons attended two training courses held locally in 1955 and 1958 when two British Training Officers, Superintendents Baker and Campbell, were brought out to provide special training for young police officers. (It was not until 1962 that the Police Training School was set up to provide 3 month courses to all recruits with no previous training.)
To most young officers walking the beat in Hamilton would have been rather routine, but young P.C. Simmons had a special talent that quickly established him as a very popular tourist attraction! He loved directing traffic at Heyl's corner on Front Street and developed his own unique, highly animated style, always with his winning smile. He became a great favourite with both tourists and locals and was often captured on home movies and clicking cameras. Hubert no doubt contributed to the legend that our “birdcage bobbies” were the most photographed police officers in the world.
But it wasn’t just visitors who were impressed by Hubert in the birdcage!
In 1952, he had married Dorothy Simmons and the following year they had a daughter, Paulette. Sadly, Dorothy passed away soon after Paulette was born.
In 1953 Hubert was transferred to Central Parishes, but before he made this move he had been spotted directing traffic in the birdcage by a young lady who marveled at how “sharp” he looked. The young lady was Lois Peniston from Devonshire, and Hubert must have made an indelible impression because in 1955 the two were married, and as they say “the rest is history.” Hubert had found the love of his life, and they were blessed with three children, Joanne, Hubert Junior, and Kenneth.
After 2 years in Parishes, Hubert was transferred to CID; in 1958 he moved to the newly formed Cycle Squad, and in 1959 he was transferred to Western CID. His talents as an investigator were clearly recognized, and in 1960 he attended a Detective Training Course at Hendon Police College in the UK. He also moved departments again in 1960, this time to Special Branch where he spent the next 6 years. Hubert had been picked out to attend several Special Branch courses held locally in 1959 and 1961, and was chosen to attend a Special Branch course in the UK in 1967. Lois says he was always going abroad on courses, usually to the Metropolitan Police Training College at Hendon, and these included a 3 month Detective Training Course at Hendon in 1960, and an extensive Overseas Officers Course in 1966 along with Officers from 15 Police Forces from throughout the Commonwealth in which he excelled. He also attended a further Special Branch Training Course in the UK in 1967.
In 1968, Hubert was appointed as the Police Press Liaison Office at Police Headquarters, and he was promoted to Inspector in June 1970, remaining as the PLO and also working in “A” (Administration) Department.
Never one to stand still for long, as he had ably demonstrated directing traffic in the birdcage, Hubert returned to Central Division (Hamilton Police Station) as Inspector in 1974, then worked for a while as Coroner’s Officer before transferring to Western Division as the Officer-in-Charge at Somerset Police Station from 1976 until taking pre-retirement leave in 1978 , although his official retirement date was 25th February 1980.
One of Hubert’s great pleasures was singing and he was a founder member of the popular Police Choir that was formed in the 1960’s during a party held in the Somerset Police Mess. The choir went on to perform at churches and functions throughout the Island and also travelled overseas on singing tours.
Following his retirement Hubert was appointed Manager of Clairfont Guest Apartments; an ideal position for him as a real people’s person who always enjoyed having dialogue with guests. As a result of close relationships formed with Hubert, many guests were repeat visitors who looked forward to returning to Bermuda.
Hubert had, for many years, been an active member of the Freemasonry organizations, distinguishing himself by holding senior positions in the English, Scottish and Irish Constitutions. His commitment and dedication over a long period was recognized by the respective Grand Lodges as he was awarded Grand Lodge Honours.
In retirement, Hubert enjoyed hobbies such as gardening and cooking; he was an avid reader and a great debater. He was known for his excellent fish chowder, sous, bread and pizza. His grandchildren would often request him to make pizza for them for parties or just to eat as they always enjoyed “pa’s pizza”. Hubert loved cooking and was always willing to try different recipes.
Hubert was an excellent golfer whilst in the Police Force and after retirement he spent many hours on Bermuda’s golf courses. He was one of the founding members of Ocean View Golf Club, and in 2013 he was honoured for his contributions over the years by way of a golf tournament and presentation in his honour at the Ocean View club house.
Hubert was also an active member of the Bermuda Golf Association and served on the Committee and as President of the Association. In fact he loved golf so much that he was known on more than one occasion to cancel out of a trip or cruise just days prior to departure because of a golf tournament, or even a regular round of golf that he wanted to play. He got away with this only until Lois finally put her foot down and let him know that a planned trip was more important than a golf game! He grew to really enjoy travelling and cruises, but on his return he would monopolize the television whenever his golf was on.
Sadly, on his last cruise in 2009 he was not well, and some months later his health had deteriorated to the extent that he required continuous care in the Extended Care Unit at King Edward Hospital, although he still greatly enjoyed being at home on weekends and holidays with Lois and his family.
Hubert passed away on Saturday December 27th 2014. To the end he remained a loving husband, devoted father, grandfather, brother, and loyal friend.
There is a quote in his obituary that reads, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”.
Hubert leaves to lovingly remember him: his wife Lois “Pie”; children – Paulette, Joanne, Hubert Jr. “Lumpy”, and Kenneth “Yogi” (Carmalita) ; brother – Colin (Jan) Simmons; sister - Elaine Whitecross; grandchildren - Akil, Jamieko, Sinead, Jaleesa, Kaya, Denzel, Blaine, Jelani, and K’la; great-grandchildren - Tinasia, Rhe’o and Eden; sisters-in-law - Marilyn Simmons, Rita Peniston, Peggy Burns (Verna;), Roslyn O’Brien (Leon) and Jackie Tyler; brothers-in-law - Eddie Ming (Wendy); Special friends - Frederick “Penny” Bean, and Dr. Gerard Bean; Godchildren - Gracelyn Bremar, Relda Wellman, Ivan Cann, Quidell Philip, and many others.
Hubert was pre-deceased by his Sisters, Irma Burnley, Norma Dorsette and Leonell Simmons; Brothers , Anson, Myron, and Winslow Simmons; grand-daughter Kitina Simmons; brothers-in-law Gladwin Peniston (Dorothy), Morris Peniston, Irving Burney, and William Dorsette; and Sisters-in-law Earlene Ming and Leola Simmons.
His funeral was held in a packed St. James Church in Sandys Parish on Saturday, January 3rd 2015.
Among the tributes paid to Hubert during the service celebrating his life was the following eulogy given by his close friend and colleague for many years, retired Commissioner of Police Frederick C. ‘Penny” Bean.
What is the measure of a man?
Is the true measurement found in a man of a quiet disposition, poor humble and proud, courageous enough to serve his community in the face of great adversity.
Could it be measured by becoming a mentor and role model to someone, by caring for those too young and too vulnerable to fend for themselves or by giving hope to those who have none or perhaps one who quietly and efficiently without accolades just doing what has to be done with humour, grace and dignity.
So how do we measure a man? Perhaps not at all by what he has, what he has earned, his status in the Community, how intelligent he is or how good looking his appearance, but rather by what is found within his heart. An old adage says that a man who has friends must himself be friendly.
As I look out over this large crowd gathered here today to show respect – to bid farewell – perhaps also to say a hearty “Thank you” to a man whom they held in high esteem. This to me is a testament to the measure of the man that he was.
At this service of thanksgiving for his life I don’t think that he would like for us to talk about the doom and gloom regarding career opportunities missed on being passed over for promotion in the Police Force as it was then known. His choice would most certainly be to make it light hearted and humorous, because that was the type of person he was – a good joke and plenty of laughter.
Hubert, as he was affectionately known, joined the Bermuda Police Force in June 1950. At that time there were no local training facilities for locally recruited persons who were given a few law books to read for a week then posted to a Division. Your progress thereafter was dependent on your personal motivation at improving yourself educationally and doing so in your own time.
Hamilton Police Station i.e. Central Division was his first posting and he became well known for directing traffic at the Bird Cage, Front Street, Hamilton, in an animated fashion, to the delight of locals and tourists alike, the latter often being passengers on the Queen of Bermuda berthed at No. 1 Shed nearby.
Transferred to Western Division he served as Southampton Parish Constable and was later transferred to CID. The late Detective Inspector Milton Murray Marsh took young Detective Simmons under his wing and the team enjoyed much success investigating crime throughout the Island.
Hubert was a versatile person. As a musician he played trumpet with Hadley Edwards and the late Melvin Bulford in the Somerset Brigade Band which, during the 1950’s, participated in the annual Easter Parade in the City of Hamilton.
An amusing story was told to me, that during one of the parades on Front Street, the Band entered Queen Street at Heyl’s Corner proceeding north towards the Phoenix Corner at the junction of Reid Street. At the time the trumpet section was at the front behind the Drum Major and the remaining Band members following. Well, at Phoenix Corner and Reid Street, the Drum Major led the Band into Reid Street with all musicians following, that is, with the exception of trumpeter Simmons who evidently had his head into the music sheet. It was when he was near where Kentucky Fried Chicken now stands on Queen Street that the applause from the crowd made him realize that he was solo – hence a hasty retreat to rejoin the group near Walker’s Arcade. They say that following this experience he was placed next to the big side drum in the rear so he wouldn’t stray.
Hubert’s tenacity for work resulted in him being promoted to the rank of Sergeant and a transfer into Special Branch. Later, on promotion to Inspector he was transferred to the Magistrate’s Court as a Prosecutor and Coroner’s Officer.
A founding member of the Police Choir in 1963, his vocal range was sometimes baritone/bass and sometimes tenor as the choir performed both locally and overseas. During one of the choir’s concert tours of the New York City area, several choir members on a shopping spree entered Macy’s Department Store. Hubert, a dapper dresser, wore bell bottom trousers and yellow platform shoes in vogue at the time. Just inside the entrance was an escalator carrying shoppers to the upper level, so everyone jumped on, and on reaching the top jumped off. Unfortunately, our late Brother did not act soon enough and was catapulted in the air, losing the sole and heel of his shoe in the process. Badly shaken he uttered some choice words to everyone’s amusement.
Words of one of Hubert’s favorite songs sung by the Choir were, “A Man without a Woman us like a Ship without a Sail; or a Boat without a rudder, or a Fish without a tail. A Man without a Woman is like a wreck upon the sand, and there’s only one thing worse on earth and that is a Woman without a Man.
Hubert and Lois were married in 1955 and the Family became well known and respected in the Community.
As a son of the soil he cultivated a plot of land adjacent to his house and proudly produced vegetables for his family and friends. Lois on one occasion encouraged him to enter some of his then growing produce into the Annual Agricultural Exhibition. Well, the crop was there at bedtime on Sunday night. At dawn on Monday most of the crop had disappeared, and red soil footprints led him to Steven’s Shop nearby. The proprietor confirmed purchasing vegetables from a person known to both of them that morning. On reflection Hubert recalled how the individual had previously mentioned how good his crop was looking. I cannot repeat Hubert’s response here.
Under the tutelage of the late Herman Bascome, Hubert became a prolific golfer and held his own with some of the finest golfers of the day, such as Professional Frankie Rabain, Noel Van Putten, Lloyd James, Brendan Bees Ingham, and the late Kenny Ford to name but a few. You would know when he had his “A” game going as he would enter the clubhouse with the broadest smile on his face, saying, “Yea I game them a tablet today”. His golfing skills were envied by many.
Hubert was a founding Member and Past President of the Ocean View Golf Club. His association with other organizations was as follows:- Past President and Member of the Bermuda Golf Association, Former Chairman and Member of Port Royal Golf Club; and an active member of St. James’ Church Choir and Men’s Fellowship.
As a Freemason he lived and upheld the precepts and tenants of the Craft through his membership and association with Lodges’ under the English – Scottish and Irish Constitutions. A true ritualist whose ability to perform lectures in the Craft was the envy of Brethren.
Grand Lodge honours were bestowed on him by the three Constitutions in recognition of his achievements over a long period of commitment and diligent service; it being very clear that he had done much good work in the respective Lodges.
In 2001 he was awarded the Past Provincial Deputy Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bermuda under the Irish Constitution.
During his Police career he received numerous Commissioner’s commendations and was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for distinguished service.
On approaching retirement age Hubert was posted to Western Division, Somerset Police Station as Officer-in-Charge where he served with dedication – commitment and integrity until retirement in 1978.
Without a doubt Inspector Simmons was a most loyal Police Officer who contributed greatly to the maintenance of law and order in the community throughout his 28 years of sterling service for which we are eternally grateful. He was indeed an Officer and a Gentleman.
WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.
I consider myself blessed to have shared in his life’s journey, along with the friendship gained over many years. He wasn’t heavy, he was my Brother.
To Lois and children along with members of the Simmons’ Family, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Officers, Ex Police Officers, The Commandant, Officers and Members of the Reserve Police and civilian staff, we extend our sincere condolences.
Thank you for having loaned him to us.
Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain thee is our Prayer.
May I share with you the following Prayer which Hubert and I found comforting:-
PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
MAY HE REST IN PEACE