In a type of awkward paradox, the possibilities and uncertainties afforded to those who are alive are often accompanied by the uncomfortable, constant and often mysterious reality of death.
Certainly the sting of death, though inevitable, is much more intense when the lives of good men and women are lost.
These occurrences are always untimely, but are ultimately beyond the control of mortal human beings.
The year 2018 was no different as Barbados bade farewell to a number of transformational figures across a myriad of disciplines. Thankfully, there is life after death, if only in the form of a legacy, created by unique contributions to society, which have the power to demand the continuing respect of a nation.
Vic Buddy Boy Brewster, the man widely regarded as the country’s first radio deejay, passed away in April at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness. He rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with his Break With Brewster show at the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Before his retirement from the CBC in 2003, Brewster was deputy programme manager for television, but was better known as a champion for the promotion of Bajan music and musicians, as well as a television director and producer.
Brewster’s passing was followed by that of another outstanding media practitioner in Sir Fred Winlyn Gollop, one of the founders of the Nation newspaper in 1973, who served as Chairman of the Nation Group of Companies for over 30 years. Sir Fred, who passed away on June 20, was remembered not only for his passion in local journalism, but also for his love of the law. The Queen’s Counsel practised law for over 47 years, including 12 years as a partner of the law firm Yearwood & Boyce.
Earlier that same month, the local entertainment community lost one of its gems, Charles Romeo Smith, a former Calypso Monarch.Romeo continued to grace local stages until 2008, despite being diagnosed with serious mobility challenges in 2005. Since then, until his death in early June at the age of 71, Romeo was remembered as one who was willing to share his wealth of knowledge with local entertainers.
The following month, Queen’s Counsel Dr Waldo Waldron Ramsay died at age 88 after a brief illness, leaving behind an enviable legacy in the legal profession. The luminary was remembered by colleagues, magistrates, court staff, police officers, court-appointed security guards and those in the higher echelons of the judiciary as a great orator, historian, gentleman of uncompromising principles and a towering figure in Barbados’ legal profession.
On August 13, the Barbados Postal Service (BPS) was thrown into deep sadness by the passing of Postmaster General Margaret Ashby, who had put in more than 40 years in the Service. Ashby was the first female to hold the post on her appointment on July 1, 2016. She was lauded in a statement from the BPS for her “strong work ethic, visionary leadership and dedication to staff . . . her passion and commitment to see the Postal Service succeed . . . her able representation at regional and international meetings”.
Later that month, on August 23, Barbados lost an “icon” for the disabled in radio personality and community worker, Carson Small. Small, who was blind, started his career at Rediffusion—now Starcom Network—as a receptionist, before hosting shows, Children’s Party and Visions. His death resulted in an outpouring of tributes from former colleagues, fellow members of the disabled community and close friends.
“The amazing thing about Carson is for a man who lived alone he always looked out for, and looked after, other people. He was more concerned about the plight of others than of his own life. He never asked for anything for himself. Whenever something was given to him he was one to say, ‘boss man, I am very thankful to you’, and that is the kind of person he was – a guy full of love,” recalled former Starcom CEO Vic Fernandes.
The final month of the year saw the loss of two other outstanding Barbadians.
Cultural icon Andrea Gollop-Greenidge passed away on December 9. Miss Lou, as she was affectionately known, was part of the original team of Cultural Officers in 1973 at the newly formed National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and was therefore a key part of the establishment of some of the cultural policies and standards in place today. The NCF’s developmental programmes as well as the modern Crop Over and NIFCA were developed with her input and artistic design. She was also remembered for her contribution to local theatre. Queen Elizabeth II had honoured Gollop-Greenidge in 2010 with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the performing arts in Barbados.
“On behalf of the people of Barbados and on behalf of my family, I say thank you to Andrea Gollop for her devotion to theatre and to Barbados. We thank her for the many hours of joy she brought to so many with her performances and for her wonderful wit. She has left an indelible mark on our national stage,” said Prime Minister Mia Mottley in glowing tribute.
Legendary writer, composer, commentator and entertainment analyst Don Marshall, better known as Sir Don, passed away on December 13 after a well-decorated musical career. The four-time Calypso Monarch was well known for his self-written social commentary, including Tax Dodgers and 20th Century Husbands, Brother Massiah and Tom Say, The Pele Case, and Make Caricom Work. His accolades include the National Cultural Foundation Award in 1993, in recognition of his outstanding development to calypso, and the 2007 Barbados Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
Another life lost in December was that of a promising nine-year-old girl, Azaria Pinky Worrell, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in May this year. On November 2, Barbados TODAY highlighted Azaria’s fight against cancer, which evoked widespread support from thousands of readers who were touched by her bravery and offered words of encouragement and numerous get-well wishes. However, Azaria lost the fight on December 5 when she died peacefully at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Azaria’s journey, though short-lived, has left priceless lessons for those who remain. In the face of the various challenges, problems, disappointments and uncertainties of the New Year, we must maintain a positive attitude and continue fighting, regardless of how hard life gets.