Former judge, diplomat and attorney–at–law Sir John Connell was yesterday remembered by his loved ones as a man of integrity with a passion for family, the environment and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Family, the island’s top officials, members of the legal fraternity, politicians and friends came together at an emotional service held at The Cathedral of St Michael And All Angels in The City to celebrate his life.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart led the list of dignitaries which included Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Leader of the Barbados Labour Party Mia Mottley, former Acting Governor General Sir Philip Greaves, Former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons and President of the Barbados Bar Association Liesel Weekes.
Delivering the tribute, daughter Lachmi Connell bravely fought back tears as she reflected on the journey of her 81-year-old father who died on March 28.
She told the attentive congregation that her father, an esteemed permanent judge for the Human Rights Court for Latin America and a former United Nations Diplomat, held strong principles and was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in.
“An example [was] voting with the Government while being an Opposition senator on the issue of increasing the number of constituencies, having discussed with the leadership at George Street that they would not rescind the law if they win the next General Election, only to be fired from the platform by then party leader Errol Barrow.
“He would often remark that he had to be able to get up every day and look at that man in the mirror . . . . He was a man who stayed principled regardless of the repercussions.”
Noting that he was often branded as a radical, Lachmi said Sir John’s desire was simply to “educate and to empower”, adding that he loved everyone and often made time to mentor aspiring lawyers.
She however stressed that her father who came from humble beginnings in the “Back Ivy”, would not want to be remembered for his accolades or achievements but for the impact that he made on people’s lives.
“He would want us to say that John Andrew Connell tried to live his life serving others. He would have liked us to say that John Andrew Connell loved somebody, he would have liked us to say that he loved and served humanity and all the shallow things did not matter,” she said.
During his long service to Barbados and the region , Sir John was also chairman of the National Conservation Commission, president of the Caribbean Conservation Commission, a founding member of the Parks and Benches Commission and one of the founding members of the People’s Progressive Movement.
Sir John’s son Dr Kwame Connell referred to his father as “ a man ahead of his time”.
Describing his dad as an environmentalist, linguist and author, Kwame said that Sir John was the “quintessential student with an insatiable thirst for knowledge” which he passed on to his children.
“We do rejoice knowing that he lived a full life, it was an impactful life. He touched the life of many,” he added.
The sermon was delivered by Dean of the Cathedral, Dr Jeffrey Gibson.
Sir John was laid to rest at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens.