News

Tributes to Mr Front Street

  • Popular and respected: during the 2014 football World Cup, Corporation of Hamilton worker Willis “Mr Front Street” Steede, turned his work cart into a portable scoreboard using each nation’s flag. Mr Steede, who died over the weekend, has greeted tourist and resident with a friendly greeting as he cleaned at Number One and Two Docks in Hamilton (File photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Union man: in 2018 Corporation of Hamilton’s unionised workers picketed the city administrator’s Laffan Street building. Here street sweeper and Bermuda Industrial Union stalwart Willis Steede participates (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A popular city worker, union stalwart and Gombey captain has died at 60.

Willis “Mr Front Street” Steede, who worked as a skilled labourer for the City of Hamilton for 23 years, was known for his friendly demeanour. He was the captain of Allan Warner Gombeys and also danced with Gombey Evolution Troupe.

The City of Hamilton posted on its Facebook page: “It is with deep regret and sadness that the City of Hamilton announces the sudden passing of Willis Steede.

“Fondly referred to as ‘Mr Front Street’, Willis was known to many in the community as his smiles and waves were a common sight along Front Street.”

The city described Mr Steede as a “true ambassador for the city” and noted he took great pride in his work, particularly his attentive care to the waterfront.

The statement said Mr Steede was a dedicated family man and friend, and passionate Gombey.

It added: “Willis loved to dance. The city mourns a dear friend, colleague and treasured staff member and sends its most sincere condolences to Willis’s loved ones during this solemn time of loss and reflection.

“May he rest in peace, yet never stop dancing, waving and smiling. Willis, you will be missed and never forgotten.”

Mr Steede was also known for his a strong support of the unions.

Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said: “It is really shocking news.

“He was a very active member of the union as far as making sure he participated in his divisional meetings for the City of Hamilton.

“He made sure he was out there supporting workers’ rights whether it was during the Labour Day march or protests about different issues.

“He will be a big miss in the union and I would like to send my condolences to his family.”

A message was also posted on the Gombey Evolution Troupe Facebook page to say: “Rest well Willis ‘Old Man’ Steede.

“Thank you for all your contributions to the culture ... you will be missed.”