Journalism in Barbados has lost a stalwart of the profession.
It was around 6:45 a.m. today that respected journalist Robert Bessie Best passed away at his Derriston Road, Spooner’s Hill, St Michael home at the age of 83.
His wife Margaret told Barbados TODAY that for the past three years he had been battling with diabetes.
During his illustrious career, he was managing editor of the Barbados Advocate newspaper and lectured in mass communications at the Barbados Community College.
For a brief period, he served as editorial consultant and proofreader at the Nation newspaper.
Best was also president of the Men’s Fellowship of the St Leonard’s Anglican Church on Westbury Road, St Michael.
In immediate reaction to his death, the Nation’s first editor Carl Moore said Best’s passing signalled the end of an era.
“Best belonged to that pantheon of Barbadian journalists who stretched all the way back to Clennell Wickham, Charles Bransway Rock, JC Proute, Joe Brome, Jimmy Cozier, O S Coppin, Ulric Rice, Don Norville, Tony Best, Harry Mayers, George Hall, Glyne Murray, Albert Brandford and Harold Hoyte,” Moore said.
He pointed out that although he held a law degree, Best’s language was never pedantic or pretentious. According to Moore, Best supported the American professor of English William Strunk’s edict that “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words for the same reason that a machine should have no unnecessary parts”.
Moore pointed out that in his time as editor, readers were seldom sent scurrying for a dictionary or thesaurus in search of meanings of rare and unusual words.
He said Best was the master of irony and could find it in almost any situation.
In his tribute Editor Emeritus of the Nation Harold Hoyte said: “All of us who became immersed in journalism in the late 50s and early 60s looked up to Robert for training and guidance.
“He was the young father to us, because he was always more senior than his years, more serious in his approach to analysis and journalism.
“He was a cautious editor who earned the respect of his peers, superiors and indeed the wider public,” Hoyte said, adding that Best “played the game strictly according to the rules and to that extent we as young journalists benefited greatly from his fine example.
“He has left a fine example,” Hoyte said.