Opposition Leader Frederick “Freddy” Wade died two years before the Progressive Labour Party’s first general election victory. But Wade had laid the groundwork by rebuilding a party that was decimated by a bitter split in 1985.
Wade joined the PLP in 1963, the year it was founded. He was first elected to Parliament in 1968, representing Devonshire North, and served the party in numerous capacities during its long years in opposition.
He was initially trained as a teacher, but had to give up his teaching career upon being elected to Parliament. He worked as a taxi driver, a dockworker and in construction to support his family, but he eventually retrained as a lawyer.
He was elected party leader in 1985 and imposed his vision of unity on the PLP’s divided and demoralised ranks. He also reached out to the business community, which was skittish about the prospect of a PLP government. Under his leadership, the PLP came the closest it had ever come to winning an election winning 18 seats to the United Bermuda Party’s 22 in 1993.
Health problems, including kidney disease, took their toll. Wade collapsed and died on his doorstep as he was leaving his home for the airport to attend a Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Malaysia. He was only 57. In April 2007, Bermuda's airport was renamed the L. Frederick Wade International Airport.
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