Related Links: Official MLSE Statement On Passing Of Lincoln M. Alexander
Lincoln Alexander, one of the great figures in Ontario public service and politics and a longtime friend of the Toronto Raptors died on Friday.
Ontario’s first black member of provincial parliament and the providence’s first black lieutenant-governor died at 90 in his adopted hometown of Hamilton.
The son of West Indian immigrants, Alexander was born in Toronto. He moved into sales but when he was refused a job because potential customers would not deal with a black man Alexander changed the course of life.
He went to law school was called to the bar and then won four elections as a Progressive Conservative MP in blue collar Hamilton. He would later become a cabinet minister and chancellor of the University of Guelph.
MLSE employees got to glimpse first-hand the magic of Lincoln Alexander when he became the Chairman and later Chairman Emeritus of the Raptors Foundation and the Team Up Foundation.
“To see Linc in his element in Hamilton was unforgettable,” said MLSE Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi. “He would ride his scooter to lunch at Denningers in downtown Hamilton and the sidewalk would part like the Red Sea. Everyone wanted to talk to the guy.”
“Lincoln was like a gentleman from another time,” said MLSE executive Beth Robertson. “He had this incredible warmth and charm about him. He had lived such an amazing life you felt so special just to share in a sliver of it.
“I learned so much from watching him,” Robertson said. “Lincoln had a way of asking people where they were from or what their interests were. He had a gift of being able to connect with people in a way that made that person feel completely at ease.”
Linc was irascible and always perfectly relaxed.
“ I came in as a politician. I have no qualms about saying I don’t think anyone can work a room better than I can,” he told the Canadian Press in an interview in 1990.
“I’ve never really been in awe of anyone. When you’re 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and good lookin’, you know, you’re not in awe of too many people,” he said.
“His legacy will always be in community leadership,” Anselmi said. “He wasn’t the Mayor of Hamilton, he was more like the Pope and there were just so many honorary things, honorary fire chief, honorary police chief, that he lent his name toward. He was just an amazing guy.”
“In this job I get to rub shoulders with a lot of cool and important people,” said Michael Bartlett, executive director of the MLSE Team Up Foundation. “He was the only guy who when I mentioned to my Dad that I knew him my father said: “wow, you met Lincoln Alexander.”