Former Cabinet minister dies at 72
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Cabinet Minister Tennyson Wells died in his sleep at his home early Tuesday morning.
He was 72.
Wells, a native on Long Island, was a member of the Bahamas Bar Association and a prominent businessman who led developments in numerous New-Providence based real estate projects, including Lyford Hills, South Seas and Yuma Estates.
He served as an attorney general and minister of agriculture and fisheries under the previous Ingraham administration. He also served as member of Parliament for Bamboo Town.
Wells resigned from the FNM in 1999 and later became an independent candidate for Bamboo Town.
He was a strong supporter of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who appointed him as president of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and chairman of its board in March 2018.
His vision for the organization was to afford graduates of BAMSI – who were interested in the agriculture industry – an opportunity to lease up to 20 acres of land to build homes and farm to support their families.
In a statement, Minnis called Wells a patriot, who did not just sit on the sideline and complain about what was wrong with The Bahamas, but “offered himself for public life, made a contribution and had a distinguished career”.
He said he was saddened at the death.
“He played a role in the work of FNM administrations which oversaw vibrant growth in the economy; infrastructural improvements across the archipelago; greater participation for women in senior roles of government; freeing of the broadcast media and more fairness in accessing opportunity for more Bahamians,” the prime minister said. “Many admired the resolve Mr. Wells displayed at any task to which he applied himself.”
“For this and all his service to his beloved country, I am grateful,” the prime minister added.
Tributes poured in for Wells with parliamentary and party colleagues extolling his work ethic, mentorship, and commitment to nation building.
Transport Minister Renward Wells said he was deeply saddened by the loss of his mentor and an “unyielding nationalist”.
For its part, the Free National Movement called Wells an “FNM warrior” who was with the party from its early days, the Free National Movement (FNM) said Wells stood for broader democracy and fairness at a time in The Bahamas when victimization and self-interest were the order of the day.
The party recognized Wells as a “brave FNM” who helped to bring about the party’s 1992 victory, which ended the PLP’s 25-year rule.
”Mr. Wells, an attorney and businessman, was a nationalist who always advocated for Bahamians,” the FNM said. “He believed government should work to better the lives of all Bahamians and that policy should provide Bahamians with the opportunity to thrive in all fields and businesses.”
Acknowledging his involvement in the organization despite his retirement from frontline politics, the FNM said his work behind the scenes was valuable in securing a victory at the polls in the last general election, and that work continued as chairman and president of BAMSI up to his death.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham added that Wells held strong views and was a fierce warrior in garnering support for the FNM.
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said Wells made a significant contribution to the public life and development of The Bahamas and offered condolences to his family. He added that Wells was a good man who loved The Bahamas and did his part to “make our country a better place”.
“As fellow students of St. John’s College, fellow members at The Bahamas Bar Association and as fellow members of Parliament, I feel a sense of personal loss at his untimely passing,” said Davis.
Davis noted he spoke with Wells’ wife yesterday morning to express condolences on behalf of the PLP family.
Several Cabinet ministers also offered condolences to Wells’ family, saying he was a “warrior” and “loyal supporter”.
These included, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard.
Pintard expressed shock about Wells’ passing, saying he spoke to him on Monday.
The Agriculture minister said the country lost a “true statesman” and a “another of its builders”. Pintard added that the BAMSI chairman charged a “bold new course” for the institute to revamp its operation model, streamline spending and build its economic base for the future.