Queen’s Counsel Dr Waldo Waldron Ramsay was a great orator at the Bar, an historian, a gentleman of uncompromising principles and a towering figure in Barbados’ legal profession.
That was how his former colleagues, magistrates, court staff, police officers, court appointed security guards and those in the higher echelons of the judiciary, who worked with him over the past five decades, remembered him today.
The 88-year-old attorney passed away on Tuesday after complaining of feeling unwell.
Speaker of the House of Assembly and attorney-at-law Arthur Holder said Ramsay had left behind a rich legacy and would be missed.
“It was sad hearing the passing of Dr Waldo Ramsay. I have had the greatest of respect for him as he had a rich knowledge of history, particularly African history. He is one of the stalwarts in the mode of dress in the High Court, the wearing of the wig, his address to the jury and even the quotes of Latin. I will greatly, greatly miss his enunciation of the law and especially the camaraderie even from a political prospective,” Holder told Barbados TODAY.
Magistrate Douglas Frederick also remembered the late lawyer as a gentleman who was always smartly attired and always willing to help people.
“If you were remotely related to him he would go out of his way to assist you. He had a lot of respect for the court and the court had a lot of respect for him. He was a man whose words were solid because he did not mince words. If he felt that his client was wrong he would tell the client that he was wrong, but then he would mitigate in a very strategic way where the court would see that counsel was not condoning the act,” he explained.
Frederick also recalled Ramsay’s love of the classics as he made specific reference to William Shakespeare’s ‘MacBeth’. He further acknowledged that he was well versed in Latin and Greek.
“In his mitigation on his clients’ behalf he always used the term ‘tabula rasa’ which translates ‘blank slate’. He was a lawyer par excellence and was the embodiment of a professional who observed the code of ethics for practicing attorneys to the letter,” added Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant who also said Ramsay was the combination of “a gentleman and a British trained lawyer, always well dressed,
. . . genuine, a family man, witty and liked to laugh”.
The deceased attorney was also remembered today as one who was always present for court. Up to the day of his passing Ramsay was at District ‘A’.
His death therefore came as a surprise and a shock to many including fellow attorney Desmond Sands who reported that “Dr Ramsay was at court in his normal affable self and we spoke”.
“Over the weekend he was not feeling the best but he was in good spirits . . . . So certainly last night when I had heard that he had passed it was a shock and surprise at the same time,” he added.
Another attorney Mohia Ma’at said it was a privilege to see Ramsay at work.
“He is very warm and welcoming to me and indeed all the young attorneys who were privileged enough to be tutored by him. He will be missed . . . he was a gentleman,” he said in his tribute.
Ramsay’s passing has also affected court clerk Judith Husbands.
“The day before we were in the court and he was very jovial and talking about plans to go overseas later this year . . . and we talked . . . and he went through the door not knowing it would be the last time. I feel so sad, I am going to miss him,” she said.
Security guard Jarvis Holder who spent many an afternoon under the tent at the gates of the District ‘A’ Magistrate’s Court having a chat with Ramsay described him as a great man and lawyer.
“Loving chap, never look down on poor people,” he said.
Also paying glowing tribute today was Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim who said Ramsay’s passing would no doubt leave a void in the legal fraternity.
“He was a great orator at the Bar. One of those people who could speak at length on literature, history, the classics. One of those who could quote Latin and Greek and would impress the younger members of the Bar with his ability to do this. He always had an antidote or a smile for you and was very, very kind and accommodating with young lawyers at the Bar,” Pilgrim said.
Ramsay leaves to mourn his wife Sheila and three children – Remona, Jill and Waldo Jr.