Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave today headed a long list of dignitaries for the funeral service of one of this island’s most outstanding and long serving judicial officers Sir Denys Ambrose Williams, who passed away peacefully at his Rockley St Michael home last week at age 84 after a prolonged illness.
Also joining family members, including former private sector head John Williams, and friends of the late Chief Justice at the Coral Ridge Chapel to pay their final respects were Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, as well as a large contingent from the legal fraternity, including Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, former acting Chief Justice Sherman Moore, Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, Sir Henry Forde, Sir Louis Tull, and former president of the Bar Association Andrew Pilgrim.
In delivering the eulogy before the large gathering that also included former parliamentarian Dame Maizie Barker-Welch, former private secretary to the Governor General Patricia Layne, as well as several other past and present politicians, Shaun Williams, the son of the late Sir Denys, spoke affectionately about his father’s many achievements and contribution to the island’s development.
Williams noted that Sir Denys, who was awarded a Barbados scholarship in 1949, had served in several legal capacities, including draftsman, assistant to the attorney general and legal advisor to the interim Commission for the West Indies. He was also involved with Roy Marshall, now Sir Roy, in drafting the constitution of Barbados in preparation for independence in 1966 and was a member of the team accompanying the late father of independence Errol Barrow to the Independence Conference in England.
In 1967, at the age of 37, he was elevated to the Supreme Court and was appointed Chief Justice in 1987.
“My father never shied away from taking on tasks and legal issues that he knew would be controversial. He thrived on more challenging issues. He knew that the ultimate decision would be ably researched and supported by the relevant law and after consideration to the several sides to the argument.
“It is not surprising therefore that although challenged, none of the judgments that he assented [to] were ever overturned, including at the Privy Council level,” Williams said.
The late Sir Denys also served on numerous occasions as acting Governor General and has been recognized by the International Society for the Reform of Criminal law for his contribution to the Society.
An exemplary Barbadian, he was also an honorary member to the Canadian Bar and served as commissioner of the National Insurance Scheme until June 2014. Sir Denys was also a member of the Rotary Club of Barbados and served as Chief Scout of the Boys Scouts of Barbados for several years.
Regardless of his work schedule, Williams recalled that his father was always available to lend his professional expertise to the Law Faculty at the University of the West Indies and was also significantly involved in sports, enjoyed classical music and followed international affairs, particularly United States politics.
A devoted father, Sir Denys taught his six children to value hard work and to be responsible citizens and allowed them to develop and choose their courses in life, including providing an opportunity and support system for them to travel and study overseas, Williams said.
Meanwhile, Canon Ivan Harewood, who delivered the sermon, said Sir Denys’ family could take comfort in the fact that the deceased enjoyed a long life, and received many blessings, including the opportunities given to him to serve his country.
He said while his time on earth had ended, Sir Denys’ journey continued in closer communion with God.
“This is perhaps our moment as mourners to pause and consider how great is our own commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ , so that we can, through the eye of faith, remember the way in God’s eternal presence.
“. . . today when we bid farewell to Denys Ambrose. Despite our sense of loss, we face the future with courage and hope . . . in the sure confidence that for our brother now departed, life has changed not ended, for he is at peace,” Harewood said.
Sir Denys was laid to rest at Coral Ridge cemetery.