It was a funeral service with a difference.
Amidst tear-filled eyes, moments of side splitting laughter, rendition of two songs written by the late Robin Hunte and played by some of the original members of the Merrymen and the singing of the hymn Glory, Glory Hallelujah accompanied by a Jazz band and lead singer Tamara Marshall, family members, friends and members of the entertainment fraternity packed the chapel at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens today to bid farewell to Hunte who died last Monday, aged 80.
A sombre mood descended on the congregation when prominent businessman Ralph “Bizzy” Williams could not hold back his tears while reading the first lesson which was taken from the book of Isaiah.
Hunte’s daughter Gina Hunte began her tribute in a steady voice but on recalling the “good and caring father” he was to his three daughters her voice broke and she began to wipe away tears from her eyes.
Hunte’s longstanding friend and fellow member of the Merrymen Chris Gibbs also began a tribute to him in a steady voice recalling hilarious moments shared between the two of them but also broke down in tears on reaching the conclusion.
In his brief tribute, Gibbs said that with Hunte’s death the Merrymen’s music died, pointing out that for the last 50 years Hunte had entertained Barbadians and the wider world.
Noting that Hunte was the son of one of Barbados leading businessmen of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Sir Kenneth Hunte, Gibbs recalled that he assumed responsibility for the financial management of the group.
Recalling one of their hilarious moments, Gibbs said that on one occasion while the group was on tour in Canada during Winter, Hunte visited a restaurant to buy his favourite treat, dressed in his tattered winter coat and was approached by a street character who asked him for two dollars.
To the amusement of the large congregation, Gibbs said that on seeing the state of Hunte’s winter coat which he had refused to throw away, the street character placed his hand in his pocket and gave him two dollars.
Gibbs said Hunte had achieved one of the group’s major goals when it became the first group from Barbados to perform at Carnegie Hall and he was inducted into the United States Hall of Fame for tenor guitarists.
Among those attending the funeral service were Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, construction magnate Sir Charles Williams, calypsonians the Mighty Gabby and John King and entertainer Desmond Weekes. (NC)