A brief announcement by the Barbados Cabinet on this day, 29 years ago, delivered the solemn news the island’s second Prime Minister Jon Michael Geoffrey Manningham “Tom” Adams had “died suddenly at his official residence” Ilaro Court in the early afternoon.
At the age of 53, he was the first sitting Prime Minister of Barbados to die in office.
There had been no indication that Adams was ill, and his death stunned many.
“The day Tom Adams died, I remember it well. Someone held over in the bus and tell me that Tom Adams passed away and I said, ‘No’. When I got home everyone I was asking wasn’t giving me an answer at all. The last person said, ‘Sit down’, and when she said that, I realized that something was wrong,” recounted Chessel Rock.
She was among members of the Barbados Labour Party and the party’s St Thomas branch, who this morning participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the St Michael’s Cathedral where he, his father National Hero Sir Grantley Adams and his mother Grace Lady Adams were interred.
“I have some very nice memories of Tom Adams. He never forget yuh, and he would always tell you don’t apologize for the things that you do that are right. He was always very jovial and had something to make you smile about,” she added, as Peggy Niles chimed in: “There were some outstanding things about him, like when he used to come to the village on Sundays and sit among the people. He had a very good memory. He knew everyone in his constituency.”
Sitting Member of Parliament on the BLP ticket, Cynthia Forde, noted that this morning’s ceremony was a way of reflecting on a man, she described as a consummate politician “who ensured that the interest of all of his constituents, despite their affiliation, were met”.
“ . . . And he did it without malice. I believe that he moved out some of that tribalism that we had seen in those days when people would want to set fire to your house and put salt in your gas tank and all of that nature.
“He saw to it that we all did what we had to do in the political arena with love and affection, understanding that, yes, people will have different persuasions but at the end of the day, we are one Barbados,” she said.