The legal fraternity today paused from court duties to pay final tribute to late colleague Allan Ivan Haig Carter, who passed away at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on October 22 after falling ill on the job during a court hearing earlier that day.
“A gentleman”, “a dedicated lawyer”, “a fallen soldier” who loved life and never slowed down were some of the phrases used by family, friends and colleagues as they remembered the life and times of the 56-year-old Jamaican-born attorney.
The memorial service, though somber and touching, saw moments of laughter as several colleagues reminisced and shared memories of Carter with the congregation at the Chapel of the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens.
Carter’s ashes rested in an urn flanked by two portraits, one in his legal attire, the other with a beaming smile.
In his tribute, the President of the Barbados Bar Association, Tariq Khan, described Carter as one “who possessed that old-fashioned courtesy which lacks in many of us; a man of manners and a gentleman” whose passing has touched many.
“There are seldom times when a death touches us and the circumstances of Allan’s death are particularly pondering, tumultuous. To die at the Bar, to die in the act of his service, in the act of his profession, it says much about him.
“Allan was somebody who went from court to court, who fiercely represented the interest of his clients, who had the energy and the commitment to be in three places at the same time. It says a lot about our profession . . . but overall it says a lot about Allan. A gentleman a friend, a brother at the Bar, a solider amongst all of us and as a soldier who has fallen, I salute him,” Khan said.
Colleague Andrew Pilgrim, QC, remembered much of the same and shared some of his experiences working with Carter at their law firm, at some points mimicking his Jamaican dialect to the nods of some in the congregation.
“Imagine a lawyer who was to the point and always brief in his submissions. He would not waste words or more importantly time, if it could be avoided. Intense and direct, these words that help to define a man who you could rely on for honesty and directness.
“He could trumpet his submissions in a manner that quickly endeared him to clients as a gladiator fighting for their rights. There are gatherings beyond these hallowed walls where Allan would be known not only for the qualities I described here, but because he was a road to freedom for men. They saw Allan in many cases as ‘my hope to be free’ something I think many of us cannot fully appreciate,” Pilgrim explained.
However, it would the tribute by his brother, Winston Carter, that would move those on hand to tears, including his wife, Dorrette Robinson-Carter, his seven children and other family members who travelled from Jamaica to Barbados for the service.
“The words that best describe my brother Allan [are] extraordinary,” an emotional Carter said as he took a deep breath, “and out of this world. [He] had a great love for his family”.
His longtime friend Professor Winston Anderson, a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), would also give a glimpse into Carter’s youth, describing him as a “teenage rebel who had become the respected lawyer”.
“By his request, no tombstone will bear his epitaph . . . and if no slab or marble or concrete would bare his truth, then we whom he touched must carry his understanding in our hearts.
“Neither the rebel nor the lawyer was Allan Carter; those were masks that he wore, roles that he played, costumes that he has now put aside. The truth that Allan invested with the best qualities he cultivated and mastered is not dead and can never die. That Allan still lives in our hearts,” the CCJ judge said.