Timothy Baswell “Basie” Donaldson, loving husband and father, loyal friend, dedicated public servant and successful businessman died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, surrounded by those near and dear to him.
A native Bahamian, Timothy Baswell Donaldson was born at home on Meeting Street in Nassau, Bahamas on January 2, 1934, and was the fifth child and third son of the late Rev. Dr. Timothy Edward Wesley Donaldson and Mildred Blanche Donaldson nee Burnside.
Along with his five siblings, Timothy Baswell grew up in a home where the values of education and community service were strongly instilled. At a young age, he and his siblings assisted their parents in serving the community of St. John’s Baptist Church: in organising school programs; providing music for the services; and—among some of his most memorable moments—travelling with his father on the mail-boats throughout The Bahamas to tend to the family island parishes.
He attended Western Junior and then Government High School where he excelled in both academics and sports (an especially good bowler at Cricket), and went on to become Head Boy. The strong friendships formed and rigorous education received at Government High School nourished him for his entire life; and this solid foundation provided the platform from which he was propelled to reach for greater heights for himself and his country.
Timothy Baswell went on to study in The United States where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Fisk University (elected to Phi Beta Kappa), Master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota, Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University and PhD in Economics from Pacific North Western University.
Timothy Baswell made a lasting impression on many students from the Caribbean and elsewhere at Clarendon College, Jamaica where he lectured in Math and Science. He returned to The Bahamas in 1962, at the age of 28, to serve as Headmaster for Prince William’s High School. Soon afterwards, he began his life in public service as Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Finance. Subsequently, he held positions as Controller of Exchange, Manager, and then Chairman of the Bahamas Monetary Authority.
In 1972, he played a pivotal role in the movement leading to the independence of The Bahamas and was appointed Economic Advisor to The Bahamas Government at the Independence Conference in London.
He was the first Governor of The Central Bank of The Bahamas, former Bahamas Ambassador to the United States and non-resident Ambassador to Colombia and Mexico, as well as Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). He was honoured for distinguished public service in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth and made a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was appointed Chairman of The College Council, the statutory body responsible for the educational policy and administration of The College of The Bahamas, in 2007. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of his beloved alma mater, Fisk University.
He held a Diploma in Public Finance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and was a Fellow of the London Institute of Bankers, The Bahamas Institute of Bankers and the Caribbean Institute of Financial Services.
He was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce in 1978; and in 1998, he received Fisk University’s prestigious W.E.B. Du Bois Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to his many diverse accomplishments in the public sphere, he was also a pacesetter in the private sector, especially in the fields of education and banking. Among the many positions he has held:-First Chairman, Securities Commission of The Bahamas; Founding member of The Bahamas Teacher’s College; Founding member of The Bahamas Institute of Bankers; Chairman of The College of The Bahamas; Chairman, Bahamas Hotel Employers’ Association Pension Fund; Chairman of The Bank of Montreal Caribbean Ltd. and Chairman, Private Trust Corporation Limited. He also served for many years, and until quite recently, as Chairman of Commonwealth Bank Limited, an institution whose worth surpassed the One Billion Dollar mark under his leadership.
His influence was no less powerful among his family and friends. He was respected and loved by his siblings—including one adopted sister and two adopted brothers, many nieces and nephews, some of whom regard him as their “second father,” “a big brother,” “a mentor” or “a dear, dear friend.” He was generous in all aspects, but most importantly as a teacher—a role he never stopped playing even after officially leaving the class room.
Timothy Baswell was an avid tennis player for most of his adult life; he also enjoyed boating, watching American football, and all the arts—but most of all, music. He played the violin, the drums, and especially enjoyed listening to classical organ music—a taste he developed early in life, growing up in a very musical church family.
He was an avid reader who was curious about ideas and was always eager to engage in vital discussions concerning the most profound questions about life—amazingly able to draw from a wide range of references, from Biblical to Plato, Schopenhauer to Spinoza to W.E.B. Du Bois, doing it all quite naturally, as if they were all his dear old friends. He often said that reading captivated his mind and allowed him to journey to many parts of the universe.
As an icon in both the public and financial sectors and a true ambassador for the country he loved, Timothy Donaldson’s influence and kindness extended throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and beyond the borders of our nation. While we mourn the loss of an outstanding Bahamian and elder statesman, we also celebrate his extraordinary life and hope that it serves as an example to young people across the nation to dream big dreams, work hard, pursue their passion, selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves and have the fortitude to explore and dare to venture beyond limits.
We have lost the irreplaceable center of our family, a steady guiding hand and the light of our lives. His gentle perseverance, optimism and the outstanding example of his life will live on in our hearts forever. We are sincerely grateful to those who gave him care and for the outpouring of support over this past year and to everyone who stood with him throughout his remarkable journey.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial gifts in the form of donations in his honour be made to The Cancer Society of The Bahamas.
Left to cherish many joyful and happy memories are:- Beloved wife Yolande; Sons: Dwight David and Kevin; Daughter: Tatiana; Brother: Luther & Family; Sister: Verna Neilly & Family; Predeceased by brothers Charles and Denis and sister Hilda Barrett. Sisters-In-Law: Carol, Althea, Jean and Fay. Brothers-In-Law: Don, Mike and Trevor. Numerous nieces and nephews. Other Relatives and Friends include: Hugh and June Sands & Family; E. N. (Mannie) & Tina Mosko & Family; Cecil & Earla Bethel & Family; William & Felicie Sands; Earle & Melanie Farrington & Family; Carleton & Katrina Williams & Family; James (J.M.) & Laverne Pinder & Family and Peter & Liz Evans & Family. Adopted Family: Davidson Hepburn & Family; Paula Small & Family and Fred Brown & Family. Friends Near and Dear: Curtis & Barbara Patton & Family; Norman Hodges & Family; Richard & Carolyn Thornell & Family; Williamson & Christine Chea & Family; Mike & Caroline Garraway & Family; Sir Orville Turnquest & Family; The Donaldson, Barrett and Parchment families at large; The Central Bank of The Bahamas Family, The Commonwealth Bank Family, City Properties Ltd. Family, The College of The Bahamas Family, The Private Trust Family, Joy Burrows & The Premier Travel Family; St. Andrew’s School Family, The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services Family, The Securities Commission of the Bahamas Family, The Gym Tennis Club Family and other family and friends too numerous to mention.