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Oration honouring Rex Anthony

Tuesday, May 25, 7:30 p.m.


They say there is nothing certain in life save death and taxes – yet we blithely, and some say foolishly, try to insure ourselves against the “whips and scorns” of time, by bonding together in benevolent societies, guilds and insurance companies to share, transfer and distribute the risks of living in an uncertain, material world.

Yet, Mr. Chancellor, despite our policies and procedures, brand new cars accelerate out of control, erupting volcanoes threaten the safety of millions, toxic oil spills foul our beaches and a man with a fat thumb destabilises global fiscal markets by typing a “b” instead of an “m” into his computer.

This is why, Mr. Chancellor, in our aleatory times we need men of energy, business acumen and humanitarian vision to protect us against all those “purblind doomsters,” rolling the dice in the lottery of life. The man summoned before you, Rex Campbell Anthony, is one such man. His group of companies in insurance, information technology, communications and resources has astutely guarded against the fortuities and infelicities of life. For over 40 years Rex Anthony has invested and reinvested his time, expertise and wealth in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Perhaps it was no accident that his parents named him Rex, that Latin name for king. After all, it was the ancient Persian kings who first began the practice of indemnifying people in exchange for small premiums. But our Rex is no remote Achaemenian monarch. Innately generous and easy-going, he is genuinely interested in everyone. His conviviality and joke-telling is legendary, though sometimes his natural curiosity has led him astray. The story goes that as a youngster he was so fascinated by the ships in the harbour that he was aboard one going out through the Narrows before his mother knew where he was.

But, Mr. Chancellor, that innate curiosity has led to the wide-ranging nature of his successful activity in business, finance, the arts, sports, education, health and tourism. In fact, he is in many ways like the Elizabethan entrepreneurs who first came to these shores. He is a “compleat man” like Robert Hayman, the first Governor of Newfoundland who also promoted the arts, guarded his legacy through insurance policies, and was a passionate advocate of Newfoundland as a place where men could lead healthy and wealthy lives, if they had wisdom and foresight.

For it is through his foresight that Rex Anthony has established an enduring legacy of support and service to our society. The Arts Council, the Board of Trade, the Art Gallery, the Symphony Orchestra, the Genesis Centre, The Rooms Corporation, the Swilers Rugby Club, the Terra Nova Golf Resort, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Lung Association and Red Cross, the Council of Business and Arts in Canada, the Canadian Progress Club, the Nature Conservatory of Canada and the Business School at Memorial University are only a few of the organizations that have benefited from his philanthropic endeavours.

Rex Anthony has been indefatigable in raising funds to build sports complexes and art galleries, promote small business, establish scholarships and finance the award winning book on the art of Reginald and Helen Shepherd. In fact, his friends will tell you, Mr. Chancellor, that if you see Rex coming, you better reach for your wallet, because you can be sure a book of tickets is not far behind.

One of his companies, Anthony Insurance claims to be able “to cover a lot in 10 minutes.” As your humble agent and broker, I cannot do justice to this remarkable alumnus in twice that time. So I shall simply advocate that Rex Campbell Anthony be signed up at once to this benevolent society, that his contract have no exclusions or conditions and be honoured uberrima fides (in utmost good faith) with the assurance of a life-time annuity of respect and affection for the incalculable level of leadership and generosity he has given our society.

I ask you, therefore, Mr. Chancellor, to confer the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, on Rex Campbell Anthony.

Dr. Annette Staveley
Deputy public orator
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