Barbados said goodbye to several prominent citizens during the course of 2016 with almost every sector receiving a visit from the so-called Grim Reaper. A leading educator, a cricket icon and broadcaster, a legal luminary and a top crime fighter were among those who passed from this life.
On Valentine’s Day, as many people were preparing to celebrate love with their special someone, news emerged that Norma Holder, a former principal of the Barbados Community College (BCC), had passed away after a brief illness. She was 79.
There were many glowing tributes to Mrs. Holder, including one from Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, who would have interacted with Mrs Holder as a former minister of education.
“Jamaican by birth, Barbadian by choice. She, like many other Caribbean citizens of her time, came to this country and committed unreservedly to the building of a young nation,” Mottley said in a statement.
“Indeed, Mrs Holder can be described as a true Barbadian nation builder.”
The Barbados Labour Party leader recalled Holder’s tenure at the helm of the BCC, noting that as the first female principal, she presided over the “almost trebling of the enrollment of our sole community college when requested to expand the institution.
“Whether in her chosen training as a chemist, in her latter career as an educational administrator, pursuing her passion as a classically trained and accomplished pianist and organist, or in her role as chairman of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, she gave of herself always – and with grace.”
The who’s who of Barbadian society, among them Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, packed the St George Parish Church on February 27 to bid farewell to Mrs Holder at her funeral service.
She has left behind husband, LIAT Chairman Jean Holder, daughters Janet and Caroline, and grandchildren.
Approximately three months after Mrs Holder’s passing, veteran cricket commentator Tony Cozier lost a lengthy battle with cancer.
The 75-year-old linguistic maestro was unquestionably an icon of West Indies and world cricket. His passing was deeply felt as was evident in an outpouring of tributes from around the globe.
Joel Garner, an outstanding former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler and current Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president, noted in his tribute: “Cricket is richer having been blessed by the excellent contribution which Tony has made and we will forever be indebted to his keen observations and honest opinions”.
As a proud Barbadian and indeed West Indian, Cozier truly touched those who have played and followed the game. For his outstanding contribution to the game, Cozier was awarded the Silver Crown of Merit (SCM) in the 1989 National Independence Awards.
The media centre at Kensington Oval is named the Coppin, Cozier and Short Media Centre after Oscar Coppin, who was a former sports editor at the Advocate, Tony Cozier and Peter Short, a former president of the BCA and West Indies Cricket Board.
Cozier was survived by wife Jillian, son Craig, daughter Natalie and other family members.
Respected legal luminary, Sir Frederick Smith, also died this year. The former judge, politician and Government minister passed away at his home on July 11 at the age of 92.
Born on July 6, 1924, Sir Frederick, or Sleepy as he was affectionately known, was educated at Combermere School from 1934 to 1936, and Harrison College from 1936 to 1944.
His legal career began with studies at Grays Inn, London in 1949 and three years later he established a private practice in Barbados.
Shortly after, Smith embarked on a career in politics and cemented himself in the ranks of the Democratic Labour Party. He first served as the first party chairman from 1955 to 1956.
Sir Frederick held several ministries. He served as Attorney General from 1966 to 1971. He also held the portfolios of Communications and Works from 1971 to 1975 and Education and Sports, from 1975 to 1976. He was also Leader of the Opposition from 1976 to 1978.
Sir Frederick, who never lost his love for law, also served on the regional stage. He was a former Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos and a former president of the Court of Appeal of Grenada.
He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in November 1987, and was conferred with the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, in 2006, by Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies.
In November 2012, the St James Secondary School was renamed the Frederick Smith Secondary School in his honour.
Paying tribute in Parliament, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, said from the beginning of his political career, Sir Frederick identified with the black working class, adding that Barbadians were fortunate to have benefitted from his experiences during his long political and legal career.
“I consider myself fortunate to sit with Sir Frederick at his home in Wanstead Heights and to engage with him and to learn first-hand what it was like in the 1920s, 30s and 40s and the struggles that people like himself would have endured to pave a better way for people like myself,” the Member of Parliament for St James South said.
Inniss said Sir Frederick never participated in political tribalism, mentioning an example the fact that even though he had had a political split with Sir Grantley Adams, he was broadminded enough to shower praise on the island’s first premier when he became the first and only prime minister of the West Indies Federation.
The eminent jurist was accorded an official funeral on Friday, August 5, at the James Street Methodist Church in Bridgetown.
Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) said goodbye to a number of colleagues this past year, among them Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of crime,
ACP Eversley, 58, collapsed and died at his Vauxhall Gardens, Christ Church home in April. The highly respected Eversley was a 36-year veteran of the police force. He had taken over as ACP in charge of crime following the death of Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Thompson, 53, last November.
Mourning Eversley’s loss were his wife, daughter and two grandchildren.
The RBPF was thrown into mourning again after Acting Station Sergeant Elvis Grafton Foster, 55, of Lodge Hill, St Michael, died suddenly sometime after 8 p.m. on October 24. Foster complained of feeling unwell and was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he later died.
He was a member of the force for 36 years, having enlisted in 1980. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the Administrative Division, Police Headquarters.
Veteran educator Matthew Farley also passed away this year. He died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on November 27 after suffering from a brief illness. He was 62.
The retired Graydon Sealy Secondary School principal was praised as a man who had left a lasting legacy after more than 40 years as an educator.
At the service of thanksgiving for his life, many recalled his passion for education, his dedication to any task he undertook, his love for his family and his gentle mannerism.
Delivering the eulogy, his sister Dr Patricia Saul remembered her brother as a passionate man who was dedicated to his career and family.
Parliamentary Secretary Senator Harry Husbands spoke on behalf of the Ministry of Education and described Farley’s death as a “sad loss”.
Farley was laid to rest at the Coral Ridge Gardens.