Tributes have begun pouring in following the death this afternoon of one of this country’s most outstanding statesmen.
The country’s first post-independence Attorney General and founding member of the 61-year-old ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Sir Frederick Sleepy Smith, who had been ailing for sometime, passed away Monday afternoon, five days after his 92nd birthday.
Sir Philip Greaves, a contemporary of Sir Frederick with whom he shared a near 50-year relationship, described the former judicial officer as a man who always gave his best.
“My friend Sleepy Smith was a stalwart in every sense of the word. On his return to Barbados in 1965, he and I shared my office [attorney] for about three weeks prior to Independence. Although I had known him before, that was a good opportunity to cement a relationship that lasted close to 50 years,” Sir Philip said.
He added that his late friend was ambitious, but never secretive about it.
“Lots of individuals in his day might have plotted and conspired, but that was not Sir Frederick. He always gave the best he knew. He remained loyal even to the end,” he stressed.
“He loved people and was concerned about their welfare and development. He was a good family man and a good friend. He will be missed, not only by his family and his friends, but also by the party he loved and helped form, serving as the first chairman,” Sir Philip said of Sir Frederick, who was the godfather of his first child.
Sir Frederick’s younger brother Vernon Smith, QC, told Barbados TODAY in a brief comment, that the late attorney-at-law was a wonderful person.
“I think he has had a good life . . . a full life and I think that he has served his country well. Very well, indeed,” the younger Smith said.
Sir Frederick’s close friend, neighbour and parliamentary representative Donville Inniss said few people had made as positive a contribution to the island’s social, political and economic development.
“As the first chairman of the Democratic Labour Party and obviously a founding member, he helped pioneer a party that has made perhaps the single best contribution to this country’s development. As the first Attorney General of an independent Barbados, he was there helping to chart the way forward; and certainly in the post independence period as a politician, MP, minister, judge, talk show host . . . right up to the end, Sir Frederick had been seeking to lead, enlighten, encourage and comfort Barbadians from all walks of life,” the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Small Business Development said.
He noted that the former Cabinet minister was passionate about Barbados and Barbadians to the end. “I consider myself fortunate to have known him for the last 30 years and have been able to sit with him at his house, at my house and to listen to his story and be guided by him. I feel a sense of great personal loss. And on behalf of my family, constituents of St James South and indeed the entire DLP family, I extend sympathy to his wife, his son and daughter.”
Former Cabinet minister of a previous DLP vintage Warrick Franklyn described Sir Frederick as a great Barbadian citizen. “He has always been one of the outstanding members of the party. He was forthright with his views, immensely loyal to the party and all who knew him were able to gain from his scholarship and his commitment to Barbados during all the years in all of the services and in all of the positions he has served,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.
Sir Frederick served as an Appeal Court Judge in Barbados, Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands, President of the Court of Appeal of Grenada and Assistant Attorney General of Cameroon.