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Sports icon Basil Neymour dies

He was one of the all-time great contributors to sports development
  • Legendary sportsman Basil Neymour died yesterday morning at 11:50 a.m. He was 71 years old.

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: Sep 17, 2013

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The track and field community here in The Bahamas, and sports in general, mourns the death of another legend as long-time contributor Basil Neymour passed away at 11:50 a.m. yesterday morning at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Neymour, the only Bahamian individual to ever be the primary financer of the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships, died from complications of cancer which had spread throughout his body. He was 71.

To say that Neymour was a generous man and went beyond the call of duty in terms of national contribution might be an understatement. His company, Neymour Construction, was the title sponsor of the 2002 CARIFTA Championships here in The Bahamas. He was a major contributor to local track and field programs and sports programs and tournaments in general; he awarded scholarships, and also fathered numerous adopted children, just to name a few of his exploits.

“Daddy was just that kind of man,” said his son, former Cabinet Minister in the Free National Movement (FNM) Government Phenton Neymour, yesterday. “He went in for routine procedure last week, and at the end of last week, he had some intense pain. We discovered that he had cancer and that it had spread throughout his body. He suffered a stroke over the weekend, and passed away this morning. It all came as a surprise to us because daddy routinely sought medical attention. He was in good condition. He used to go fishing twice a day, but I guess cancer is just one of those diseases that sneaks up on you, and that was the case this time around.

“Although his death was quick, the family was able to take it at a rate that we could swallow. Death is very tough, but what is keeping us, is the fact that daddy had lived a full life. When we sit and look at everything that he has done, what more could we ask for from God. We are thankful, celebrating the gift that God has given us. He was a father, a husband, a friend and a wonderful citizen of The Bahamas.”

Neymour is survived by his wife Paula and his four sons, Phenton, Chet, Brian and Bradley. As mentioned above, he fathered numerous adopted children though.

“Daddy always tried to help others because he, himself, was an orphan. His daddy died [when he was] two, and his mother died [when he was] eight. He was a man from eight,” said Phenton Neymour. “Daddy vowed to take care of others all his life. Anyone who he feels needed help, he helped, not just in track and field, but others as well. You see, daddy was a track athlete back in his day - he ran the 400 and 800 meters, and because there were no sponsors in those days, he never realized his full potential as a track athlete. When he entered business life, he vowed to always help others, and he did that and never looked for anything in return.”

The elder Neymour wasn’t just a track and field legend. He delved into other sports such as boxing, and also sponsored his own Junkanoo group in Freeport, Grand Bahama, the Majestic Crusaders. In politics, he served under the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and as mentioned, his son Phenton was a Cabinet minister and member of Parliament for the South Beach constituency in the FNM government from 2007-2012.

Condolences poured in yesterday from both parties.

A FNM press release stated: “The Honourable Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, leader, Free National Movement, extends condolences on behalf of the Free National Movement to Mr. Phenton Neymour and the entire Neymour family on the death of his father Mr. Basil Neymour. Please know that our prayers are with you. May God comfort you during this very difficult time.”

The statement went on to quote Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Bradley Roberts, PLP chairman, sent out a statement that read: “The Progressive Liberal Party mourns the passing of Bahamian son, Basil Ospert Neymour. Mr. Neymour is a renowned road builder, sportsman and philanthropist as he always gave back to a country he openly acknowledged had done so much for him. The PLP thanks him for his contributions and faithful service, and on behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife and children during this very difficult period.”

As a business man, Basil Neymour built Prospect Ridge in the 1960s, and one of his more notable projects was Independence Drive which he accomplished in 1969 at just 28 years old. Neymour Construction, which is based in Grand Bahama, is responsible for the construction and upkeep of many more local projects, including the track in San Salvador, one in Cat Island and two in Andros. Neymour was born in Fresh Creek, Andros, but lived in Grand Bahama since the 1970s. He just recently gave 31 scholarships to high school students from Andros to attend The College of The Bahamas. He once gave every child in Crooked Island a bicycle so they wouldn’t have to walk to school.

“There are so many wonderful things about daddy that goes unnoticed because he was one who never sought any compensation or recognition for what he did. He was just a wonderful man, and he will truly be missed,” said his son Phenton yesterday.

It’s just unfortunate that a man such as Basil Neymour, literally a nation builder who touched so many lives, wasn’t touched himself on a national level in some meaningful way that measured up to the contribution he made in and out of sports to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Neymour is yet to be inducted to the National Sports Hall of Fame, and was rarely recognized for his contributions.

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