The Freeport News today extends condolences to the immediate family of Sir Jack Hayward and his wider circle of associates inclusive of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the soccer (football) fraternity in the United Kingdom.
Sir Jack passed away on Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and there has been an outpouring of expressed sympathies from this region and the other side of the pond where he was perhaps more known. A philanthropist and a man of great vision, Sir Jack became a revered footballer when he bought the Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1991 and held ownership for 17 years. They mourn his passing in the UK.
Here in Grand Bahama where Sir Jack was based, he was primarily associated with the Grand Bahama Port Authority and considered the prime advocate of innovative undertakings and concepts like the new bridge connecting Freeport to East End and the proposal for a bridge joining Grand Bahama to Abaco.
Sir Jack himself bridged the gap between the noted developer Wallace Groves, Sir Charles Hayward who partnered with the American investor, the embryonic free port community and the present era.
He was one of the three pillars of the modern GBPA. Edward St. George, the late GBPA Chairman who was brought on stream in Grand Bahama by Sir Charles, teamed up with Sir Jack to usher in the modern GBPA. They were later joined by Sir Albert Miller and became the trio most synonymous with the GBPA.
Following the death of St. George, the GBPA went through some trying years coming to grips with the restructuring of leadership. In due time though, the dust settled and Sir Jack emerged as the Honorary Chairman, working closely together with Edwardâ s daughter Sarah St. George.
As the GBPA settled, Sir Jack became more and more visible. At all times, he maintained his feisty character.
In recent times, his passion and desire for the beloved Freeport to recapture its pristine environment was increasingly evident. He was critical of the casual attitudes of folks who dropped litter all over the city.
He blamed governments for the failure to reach meaningful agreements with investors to ensure the progress of Freeport and Grand Bahama. Accordingly, he lamented the projects that faded, others that failed, the general deterioration of the International Bazaar, and the decadence of inner city communities. His feelings were strong and he lashed out in a letter, about a month before his passing, with complaints about the value added tax (VAT) process and the heavy spending of government for subsidies such as the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Agree with Sir Jack or not, it was always clear that in is heart he was interested in life being better and better for Grand Bahamians and the wider Bahamas.
Sir Jack was born in Wolverhampton, England but he was like a loyal son to Grand Bahama and The Bahamas, the place he called home for more than half of his 91 years.
Rest in Peace Sir Jack!