William Sears Zuill M.B.E. Director Emeritus of the Bermuda National Trust
William Sears Zuill M.B.E.
Director Emeritus of the Bermuda National Trust
Director 1972 to 1990
The Bermuda National Trust laments the passing of William Sears Zuill MBE. William Zuill was the first Director and first full time employee of the Bermuda National Trust, and served in this capacity for 18 years until his retirement in December 1990. As such, he was an integral part of the history of the Trust since its inception in 1970.
The Historical Monuments Trust was established in 1937 to safeguard Bermuda’s heritage through ownership of historically important houses and open space. William Zuill contributed to the work of the Historical Monuments Trust alongside his father and others prior to 1970. He was instrumental in implementing the complex handover of Historical Monuments Trust properties and collections to the newly formed Bermuda National Trust. He also was integral to the rapid increase in the membership and community respect for the new organization, and its acquisition of additional properties and collections to preserve more of our natural and built heritage. I quote from the Bermuda National Trust Newsletter of January 1991 “During his tenure the Trust has grown from guardians of 12 properties and two open spaces to trustees of 60 properties of all sizes and descriptions. This increase of incredible proportions has all taken place under Mr Zuill’s dedicated guidance.“
The Christmas Walkabout was his idea in 1978. It was originally a Christmas party for Trust members with events in each of the major St George’s properties held by the Trust to engage the membership in our historic properties. The Children’s Nature Walk was also created to do the same in places of natural beauty, and the Palm Sunday Walk, started in 1974, introduced members to parts of Bermuda they could not normally reach. These annual events are now attracting so many Bermudians they are truly national events, and have far surpassed their humble origins.
William Zuill was an accomplished author, and many of his works form part of the educational publications of the Bermuda National Trust. He contributed to the first publication of “Held in Trust” and wrote and paid for the production of “Footsteps in the Sand” to provide historical content as a companion to the 400th Anniversary of the beginning of human habitation in Bermuda. His “The Story of Bermuda and her People” is now in its third edition and his latest publication, “The Pirate Menace”, was the subject of a very entertaining talk he gave only last year at Verdmont as part of the Bermuda National Trust series of museum chats.
In addition to his work with the Bermuda National Trust, William Zuill was also very active in the development of the National Trust movement around the world. He chaired the committee responsible for hosting the fifth International Conference of National Trusts in Bermuda in 1989 which was attended by 53 delegates attending from 23 Countries. This conference was one of the many activities organized as part of the Bermuda National Trust’s 20th Anniversary. His leadership and advocacy within the international arena resulted in William Zuill becoming a founding member of the International National Trust Organisation. INTO has grown so that today it has a membership of almost 70 National Trusts from around the world.
On behalf of Bermuda National Trust members, staff and Council, past and present, I thank William Sears Zuill for his invaluable contribution to the work of the Trust, and quote again from that newsletter of 1991 “An era has ended, of that there is no doubt. And we look back with gratitude and thanksgiving, for William S. Zuill was the right man in the right place at the right time.”
Lt Col William K White
Council President, Bermuda National Trust