Remarks by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris at the Official Renaming of American Bakery to Amory Bakery on Sunday, December 15th, 2019

I am deeply honoured that Mr. Ernest Amory has asked me to deliver remarks at this official renaming of American Bakery to Amory Bakery.

As I look around and appreciate the very attractive and appealing new décor and layout of the Bakery, which now has a trendy bistro or café ambience, it crosses my mind that both Ernest’s beloved deceased father and brother, Mr. Edward Ashton Amory and Mr. Reginald Amory, are smiling proudly at this sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing transformation.

The menu is not the only thing that has been expanded – so too has the social space.  This has resulted in an especially inviting and relaxing setting, which is perfect for friends who want to gather after work for good eats and conversation.  With this customer-friendly update, the Bakery is poised to become even more of a go-to place, not just for its patrons to make a quick stop to pick up their favourite bread, but for a clientele that wants to spend some time basking in the delicious aromas while on a coffee or lunch break or an after-work or weekend lime.

Another thought that crosses my mind is that of a quote by the author Reed Markham, which says: “The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family.”

It’s a true mark of the late Ashton Amory’s excellence as a father, baker, businessman and philanthropist that his sons Ernest and Reginald followed in his footsteps then filled his shoes after his untimely death on March 17th, 1992 at the age of 66.

Edward Ashton Amory was born to Inez O’Farrell of Phillip’s Village on July 22nd, 1925.  He would go on to marry Ursula Hendrickson, who was deceased at the time of his death.  They had six children: Leroy, Reginald, Archibald (who predeceased his father), Ernest, Lola and Austin.

At the time of his death, it was reported in The Democrat Newspaper (March 28th, 1992) that at his funeral, his children said, “he was truly not only a great Father, Friend and outstanding son of the soil, but a Daddy that they would miss daily.”  The newspaper article also said, “His loss was deeply and widely mourned, because, Ashton Amory was not only known as the best baker in the Federation, and a man of deep religious faith who had started his flourishing career from ‘grass roots’, but also, as a humanitarian, and a man who demonstrated a deep compassion for those who were in need of help.”

Indeed, Ernest’s father had many fine qualities for which he was duly recognized.  Ashton Amory was honoured as one of the first recipients of our Nation’s Independence Award in 1983.  He was the 1988 Businessman of the Year.  In 1989 Her Majesty the Queen bestowed upon him the accolade of M.B.E. and that year he also received an Honorary Award from Oklahoma State University, where both Ernest and Reggie had completed studies in baking and food services – but what really made him leave an imprint in the hearts of many in St. Kitts and Nevis was his generous spirit and love for the people.

(Ashton Amory ensured that students received a filling snack when the government would host a treat for schools.  In 1989, to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary, Ashton Amory offered his baked goods at half price to the public; this was so well received that – in honour of their father – Ernest and Reginald instituted Amory Day in 1992.  The Customer Appreciation Day, which was celebrated annually on February 17th until 2002, presented the public with an opportunity to purchase items at half price and receive T-shirts and other merchandise with the American Bakery brand.)

On Sunday, December 19th, 2010, the Amory brothers executed a hugely successful giveaway, with bread given free-of-cost to the public from 12 noon.  The bread that was given away was valued at EC$17,000.  When asked why they chose to give away $17,000 worth of bread, Reginald was quoted by SKNVibes (December 19th, 2010) saying, “The number 17 has a lot of significance to us, as my dad was hospitalized on January 17th, 1992 and died on March 17th the same year.”  He also noted that the previous year (2009) marked 17 years since his father’s passing.

In those words, we get a sense of the extent of Ashton Amory’s influence; indeed, he inspired and guided his sons in making business decisions even from his grave. They in turn remained committed to the continuation of their father’s legacy of giving and anticipating the needs of the people.

The late Ashton Amory was a man of humble means from Phillips Village who started, in his own words, with five pounds of flour in his bakery.  He would go on to become the biggest importer of flour in St. Kitts and Nevis.  When he opened his bakery in 1949 in his mid-20s, he made bread by hand and used a stone oven.  To our young entrepreneurs I say do not be shy about starting small.  It is really not how you start but how you would have ended.

When he sought to acquire equipment to expand his bakery, he was turned down for loans by several local lending institutions.  Amory Enterprises now encompasses a diverse mix of business interests, including real estate, and today Amory is a household name.  It is fitting tribute to the giant of a man who founded it in 1949 that “American Bakery” is today being changed posthumously to “Amory Bakery,” in honour of Mr. Amory and, by extension, his sons who worked diligently to carry on their father’s business.

Today, Ashton and Reggie are smiling down at Ernest, thinking, “Job well done!”  On behalf of the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis, I wish you and your family continued success and prosperity.  I record my profound respect to your father and to you Ernest and Reginald for what you all have accomplished while expressing gratitude to the people of this nation for their continued support.  Inherent in the Amory name is an understanding of customer service and loyalty, and the Bakery’s renovation and name change represent the next phase of a remarkable journey that began with your dad’s dream of starting his own business.

May you always carry on the Amory legacy and honour the family name, for it is a name that has much goodwill in this Federation.

I praise the spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship which the Amory’s came to personify.  I hail the fact that they were a real team.  A troika of Ashton, Reginald and Ernest will long be remembered for their sagacity, industry, ingenuity, innovation and patriotism.

May the legacy of Ashton Amory, and what he stood for, live on in all of us.  I thank you!

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