PRIME Minister Perry Christie expressed sadness over the death of former cabinet minister and Grand Bahama MP Warren J Levarity who died Sunday after “a lengthy illness”.
He was 82.
Mr Levarity was a member of the first Progressive Liberal Party cabinet formed after Majority Rule in 1967. He served as minister of Out Island Affairs and represented the Grand Bahama district and later the West End and Bimini constituency in the House of Assembly.
Mr Levarity later left the PLP – he was a member of the Dissident Eight – and became one of the founding members of the Free National Movement.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, former leader of the FNM, also expressed his condolences over the death.
“Mr Levarity was an astute political strategist with a deep knowledge of Family Island politics,” Mr Christie said in a statement.
“In the struggle for Majority Rule, he played a key part and, with Sir Arthur Foulkes, was known to be among Sir Lynden Pindling’s closest and most trusted advisors.
“In his own right, however, Mr Levarity was, for a great part of the 1960s, the dominant politician in Grand Bahama which he represented in the House of Assembly from as early as 1960. His standing was further enhanced by his father, the late Garnet Levarity, who was a patriarchal figure and senior public official for many years in Grand Bahama.
“It is noteworthy that with Mr Levarity’s passing, Arthur Hanna is now the sole surviving member of the first Majority Rule cabinet.”
Mr Ingraham said Mr Levarity “laid the foundation for the establishment of the Free National Movement, helping to secure a vibrant two-party system”.
“His good work and that of others helped to secure democracy in the Bahamas,” he added.
The former North Abaco MP said Mr Levarity was a member of the National Committee for Positive Action, which during the 1950s and 1960s, provided leadership for the aspirations of disfranchised Bahamians seeking to abolish the plural vote, achieve universal adult suffrage and ultimately attain Majority Rule.
He was a founder of the Bahamian Times newspaper, which was instrumental in the struggle for Majority Rule and helped to foster a new political consciousness among Bahamians, Mr Ingraham said.
“His political metal was tested and proven in the 1960s when he contested and won a by-election in Grand Bahama against great odds and against an established order opposed to racial and economic equality.
“It is notable that he issued a White Paper on Local Government as early as 1967, a vision that would not come to fruition until the election of the FNM to office decades later,” Mr Ingraham said in a statement.
“His dedication to principle brought him into conflict with his party’s leadership which he believed was quickly losing its way. His challenge of his party’s leadership and direction cut short his political career, but contributed in great measure to the creation of the democratic system we enjoy today. For this reason alone, the Bahamas owes Warren Levarity a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Mr Ingraham said a previous FNM administration named a highway leading into Eight Mile Rock in Grand Bahama after Mr Levarity.