Accountant who left Scotland to lead inquiry into corruption in the Bahamas;
Born: March 3, 1924; Died: December 11, 2012.
Edwin Minnis, who has died aged 88, was born in the Bahamas and arrived in the UK in 1948, intending to study for a degree and then return home. In fact he spent most of the rest of his life in Scotland, returning to the Bahamas temporarily to work on a Commission of Inquiry into corruption in the mid 1990s. During this time he became so well-known that a calypso song was written about him.
Mr Minnis was born in Nassau in 1924 at a time when the Bahamas was under British colonial rule. Growing up, he helped his father in his role of jobbing butler for the rich white residents, particularly at the exclusive Cable Beach Golf Club. The socially privileged clientele included Edward VIII who had recently abdicated from the British throne. On one occasion, having presented the school prizes in the afternoon, the former monarch saw Edwin lining up with the rest of the staff at an evening engagement and congratulated him effusively on an excellent set of exam results.
During the Second World War, Mr Minnis served as an officer in the British Army in Jamaica and, after the war, got a scholarship to study accountancy in the UK. It was at the Cosmopolitan Club at Edinburgh University (an organisation that welcomed overseas students) that he met the then president, Joyce Wood, who later became his wife. He got a good degree in economics, followed by a CA (Charted Accountancy) and moved to Glasgow where he did his apprenticeship.
In 1956, the couple were married, settling in East Kilbride in 1958. He then had a struggle getting employment because of his colour, both in the UK and in the Bahamas, which was still white dominated. He took on temporary evening work lecturing at Glasgow University and eventually got a full-time post at the Scottish College of Commerce, which soon became part of Strathclyde University.
He enjoyed a long and successful career as a senior lecturer. his special interest was accountability in the public services, and he had a five-year period as acting head of department. Although, with CW Nobes, he edited a book entitled Accountants' Liability in the 1980s, he was by no means a typical accountancy lecturer. He was famed for holding regular parties for his students during which he served Bahamian specialities such as fried chicken, peas and rice, explosively spicy onions and rum punch.
In the late 1980s he took early retirement and started his own accountancy firm focusing on helping new business start-ups.
He was always very active in his community, including coaching table tennis at the local youth centre and running a young offenders' group for the social work department, where he acquired the moniker "Big Ed".
He was a Justice of the Peace for many years and eventually became Chair of the Justices. He continued to have a particular concern for the rehabilitation of young offenders, although at home he would joke that he was "the hanging judge".
The high moment of his career came when he was called back to the Bahamas to serve on the 1992 Commission of Inquiry investigating corruption in the public services in the island group. This was the source of major public interest in the Bahamas and was televised live each day over a five-year period.
After one particularly intense exchange with a defendant who had no memory of receiving a large financial deposit, a calypso song became a big hit with the refrain "Please Mr. Commissioner Sir, I cyaaaaan't recall".
During a long recess, waiting for the Privy Council to adjudicate, he secretly had a major operation in Scotland, which was perhaps the beginning of his health problems.
After the commission was completed, he retired and enjoyed hobbies such as bird watching, astronomy and reading classic novels. He also took great pleasure in helping look after his two grand-daughters and enjoyed a full and happy family life. He is survived by his wife Joyce, daughters Natalie and Helen and grand-daughters Ellie and Sam.
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