Dr Frances Chandler was today eulogized as a true professional who “gave her all” to agriculture and to public service as a senator, a no-nonsense columnist, and a profound and passionate Barbadian.
Delivering the eulogy before a packed St Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in Maxwell, Christ Church, Sir Henry Fraser said if Dr Chandler could have been given another year or two of a passionate, productive life, she would surely have become a Dame.
Sir Henry said: “Frances was a role model as a Senator, a true professional in her field of agriculture, a no nonsense columnist, and in every way a proud and passionate Barbadian. Everyone who knew her, as well as those who only read her, admired her.
“Some feared her honesty. But all respected her and many envied her courage. Courage that forced her to speak the unvarnished truth in her columns, in her professional work, in the Senate, and even with her beloved family.”
Sir Henry referred to a story in the family’s eulogy in which Dr Chandler called “Inspector Griffith at Central Police Station” when her relatives – the Hoad family of St Andrew – failed to arrive at her house on time, insisting they must have crashed into a cane field somewhere along the route, with the implication that they knew better than to be late for dinner with her.
“She prized punctuality second only to doing your very best at everything,” he said.
Sir Henry’s tribute complimented tributes composed by her niece Chris, with inputs from her siblings, nieces and nephews.
He sought to emphasise the renowned agronomist’s lineage of academic achievement. She followed her brother Paddy, Sir Henry’s friend and classmate, in winning the Barbados Scholarship in the 1950s when only five were issued per year. She was in turn followed by her sister Wendy, so that all three siblings were Barbados scholars, making history, he added.
Sir Henry said the rest of Dr Chandler’s life had been story after story of inspiring other people.
She studied agriculture at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, and was awarded her PhD in crop science 25 years later.
Sir Henry added: “Frances never stopped doing, and her ideas were constantly converted into action. She worked with passion to create truly sustainable agriculture for Barbados.
“She did not work within the university but she deserved an honorary degree from the UWI, because her successful research and development projects in agriculture are legion, her outputs are prodigious, and her awards are as long as your arm – local and international, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Gold Medal for contribution to agriculture.
As a fellow Senator, Sir Henry said he came to know Dr Chandler well during their time in the Upper House.
He recalled that the agronomist was the epitome of what a Senator should be, as she always made conscientious, well-researched, informative and invaluable contributions to debate, with “no posturing, no political soap box rhetoric, no waffling like so many others, and all delivered in five to six powerful minutes each time” .
He continued: “‘Wow,’ we the other independent senators said after every speech. ‘She’s done it again.’”
She was remembered as giving her all to agriculture research and development, public life, role in the Senate and newspaper columns, and lovingly and generously to those in need and to her beloved family.
Members of the local farming community joined Dr Chandler’s family and friends to give thanks for her life, during a sombre hour-long service.
Among prominent figures in attendance included Chief Agricultural Officer Lennox Chandler, plant pathologist Michael James and entomologist Ian Gibbs, veteran sugar cane producer Patrick Bethell, Chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Ltd (BSIL) Mark Sealy, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul, and businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams.
The homily was delivered by Father Andy Nyga who reflected on death and what it meant in the eyes of the Lord.
Dr Chandler was later cremated.
The urn carrying her ashes rested next to a bouquet, and her picture, at the centre of the front of the church during the service.