Prison Chief Lieutenant-Colonel John Nurse Wednesday led rank and file members of the Barbados Prison Service in a rousing send off for one of their own – 50-year-old Roger Tosh McIntosh who collapsed and died unexpectedly on his way to work on January 7.
His two-hour long funeral service at St Luke’s Anglican Church, St George ended Wednesday afternoon in a tribute march by prison officers – from the church to the nearby skills training centre – in honour of the former Prison Officer 1.
There was also musical tribute in the form of the Last Post, signifying that Tosh, who served for ten years with the Barbados Defence Force before joining the prison service 22 years ago, had gone to his final rest.
During today’s moving farewell, family members and friends also hailed Tosh as a devoted father, son and friend.
Sitting at top of the church was his 96-year-old father, who uttered nary a word, but could barely sit still as the afternoon drew on. His face bore the obvious grief of a father confronted with the arduous task of burying a son — particularly one he loved and who readily took care of everyone, especially his dad. As he was assisted in walking past his son’s flag-draped, wooden casket, the elderly man simply shook his head as if still in disbelief over Tosh’s passing.
It was equally an emotional time for his 21-year-old daughter Chloe, who in a written tribute shared by eulogists Natalie Inniss and Nigel Hall, said: “On the 7th of January, 2017, the world froze. I was left standing around in an orbit of sadness, tears and loss. Flashes of life’s moments seemed to dangle before me. As I closed my eyes, I could see my dad’s face – see his smile and hear his voice.”
She also recalled that her dad was never absent when she was growing up and always encouraged her to be the best that she could be.
Tosh’s partner Kera Rogers said he was a loving man. She also shared details of a dream he had two days before his death, of him picking up gold from the ground, and Rogers said he died quite mystified about what it all meant.
However, it could all have been part of God’s great plan for the former Drax Hall Tenantry, St George resident who turned 50 on December 10, and was also described as a jack-of-all-trades, who engaged in masonry, tiling, carpentry, auto valet services, among other things.
Anglican priest Davidson Bowen suggested as much in his sermon in which he indicated that “God’s children do not die”.
“God has a plan and we need to believe in that plan and this is where our faith comes into play . . . we must simply trust our God who knows all,” he told the packed gathering of mourners, including residents of the close-knit Drax Hall and Bydes Mill communities, to whom Tosh’s death came as a total surprise.
In a moving appreciation delivered on behalf of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Assistant Chief Officer Jeffrey Hoyte said Tosh, who was also affectionately known by his colleagues as Serge was “one of the best officers of our time”.
“We can still hear his mild mannered voice at the gate or wherever he was assigned. Face never with a frown, an appropriate response always at the ready, a genuine force of nature, in support of officers’ rights or The Barbados Prison Service. And yet, while his causes may become deeply personal, his disagreements never did.
“He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of work prevented individuals from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect – a time when adversaries still saw each other as comrades.
“Roger McIntosh became one of the best officers of our time. He did it by sticking to principle, and also seeking compromise and common cause – through friendship and kindness, and humour,” he added.
It was a glowing tribute delivered by a colleague who clearly admired Tosh and for who he was “a mentor [but] above all a friend”.
‘I remember the first time we toured [the former prison] Glendairy; the class of 95, one officer looked at Roger and said, ‘at least I will not be at the end of the line anymore; a man shorter than me has come.’” Hoyte said, evoking some laughter.
However, he was quick to add that though short in stature, Tosh, who joined the prison service on July 3, 1995, was “tall in determination”.
He also said Tosh, who had risen through the ranks to the level of Prison Officer 1 or sergeant, wore his uniform with pride and had taken several challenging assignments during his tenure, including “sleeping in cane fields all hours of the night, unfortunately without success” during the search for now deceased infamous prisoner Winston Hall.
Wednesday’s funeral service was a celebration of the life of the late officer who recently received a Medal of Honour for his 22 productive years of service.
Apart from his dad, Tosh is also survived by nine siblings, but was pre-deceased by his younger brother Oneal and his mother Eileen.