Sir Stafford Sands, remains one of the most compelling and controversial personalities, in modern Bahamian history. Arguably, his contribution to the economic development of The Bahamas, has few parallels. His infamy however, has several.

Sands’ lengthy political career greatly overshadowed whatever personal life he had. Newspapers following the enviable rise of the Bahamian tourism model, which Sands created as head of Development Board in the 1950s, were quick to lavishly bestow, political and economic praises on him.

Equally, when it came to his personal life, there were never any salacious tabloid stories printed. His divorce and remarriage in 1966, were barely mentioned in the press.

It was not until the famous, watershed article, on mafia links inside casino gambling in The Bahamas, in the American publication, Life magazine, that the press’s kind treatment of Sir Stafford truly ended.

Stafford Sands…

Sands was an only child; and although he married twice, Stafford himself, would only have one child.

Sir Stafford died, in January 1972, in London at the age of just 58. He had been hospitalised for four months, prior to his death, for treatment of a reported cancer of the bone, which would eventually kill him.

His Bahamian-born ex-wife, Winifred survived him. His only child, a daughter, Mercedes, survived him. His European born, second wife Ulli, survived him.

Whatever happened to Sir Stafford’s millions remains a mystery.

The Miami Herald, WEDNESDAY 26th JANUARY 1972
The Miami Herald, WEDNESDAY 26th JANUARY 1972
The Miami Herald, WEDNESDAY 26th JANUARY 1972

Winifred Maude Sands – First wife of Stafford Sands

Miami Daily News, SATURDAY 28th JULY 1951

Stafford Lofthouse Sands married Winifred Maude Sands. They had one daughter, Mercedes, born in 1942.

In 1948, Stafford Sands was acting as attorney for British holiday camp millionaire William (Billy) Butlin. The Sands and Butlin families became fast friends.

Butlin’s built a holiday camp resort in Grand Bahama. The venture went bust in a few years. By 1950, an American syndicate, had been formed to buy it. The area was sold to Wallace Groves who went on to create a newly named city and historical legacy called Freeport.

The Chronicle Echo, Northampton, England, MONDAY 20th NOVEMBER 1950

Mrs. Winifred Maude Sands, along with William Butlin, his wife and two others, survived light plane crash near Banbury, England in 1948.

The Birmingham Gazette, TUESDAY 3rd AUGUST 1948

Mrs. Stafford Sands was an avid and skilled sportswoman. She loved the sea. In July 1951, Winifred Sands was the only woman pilot, in the regatta sailing races, held in Miami.

Miami Daily News, SATURDAY 28th JULY 1951

Winifred Maude Sands, after divorcing Sir Stafford Sands in 1966, lived some 30 years in Coral Gables, Florida. She died there in 1989.

The Miami Herald, SUNDAY 5th NOVEMBER 1989
The Miami Herald, MONDAY 6th NOVEMBER 1989

Ulli de Breffini – Second wife of Sir Stafford Sands. They had no children

The official title was Lady Ulla during her marriage to Sir Stafford.

Ulli de Breffini survived Sir Stafford by many years. They married in 1966. Sands died in 1972. Ulli went on to marry a third husband, who also predeceased her. That husband died in 1989.

The Sunday Independent 3rd JUNE 1990
The Sunday Independent 3rd JUNE 1990

Mercedes Elizabeth Sands affectionally called “Teddi” only child of Sir Stafford Sands – born 17th July 1942

Courtesy of

Mercedes Elizabeth Sands attended the Westminister School in Atlanta, Georgia

Courtesy of

Mercedes Sands was pictured on several occasions, in Nassau, with her schoolmates from the Westminister School, during school holidays.

The Atlanta Constitution, FRIDAY 6th DECEMBER 1957
The Atlanta Constitution, MONDAY 18th MAY 1959
The Atlanta Constitution, MONDAY 18th MAY 1959

Mercedes Sands married Richard John Horetz. They divorced in 1967. In 1967, Mercedes was only 25 years old.

In 1965, Richard J. Horetz was sued by First National Bank of Fort Lauderdale as part of a foreclosure on a Boeing Aircraft.

Fort Lauderdale News, SATURDAY 03rd JULY 1965

By the time Sir Stafford Sands died in 1972, Mercedes had already been married and divorced. Preferring to be known by her pet name, Mercedes was now referred to as Mrs. Teddi Horetz of Miami, in the press.

The Miami Herald, WEDNESDAY 26th JANUARY 1972

Mercedes Elizabeth Horetz divorced Richard J. Horetz in June 1967. They had a son, Stafford S. Horetz born in August 1962. Stafford S. Horetz married Sherry Horetz sometime before 1989. They divorced in September 1999.

Stafford S. Horetz at 10 years old in 1973

The Tampa Tribune MONDAY 11th JUNE 1973

By the time her mother, Winifred Maude Sands, died in 1989, in Coral Gables, Florida, Mercedes Elizabeth Horetz (nee Sands) had married again. She married a Steven Parker. Mercedes and Steven Parker had one son named Andrew Parker.

The Miami Herald, MONDAY 6th NOVEMBER 1989