Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Region bids farewell to Sir John Compton
Today, almost all of the region's news outlets feature stories on the funeral service of the late Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Sir John Compton. Following is the lead story from the Daily Nation in Barbados:
A HERO, LEGEND, freedom fighter and a politician of the highest quality.
These accolades and many more, in speeches and song, were accorded to the late St Lucia Prime Minister Sir John George Melvin Compton yesterday, as the Caribbean bid him farewell in a four-hour funeral service in the Immaculate Conception church in the capital, Castries.
The service was a unique celebration which blended solemn hymn singing and uptempo music, and stirring tributes reflecting
Sir John's 81 years, most of which were spent in fruitful and distinguished service to St Lucia and the Caribbean.
Barbados' Prime Minister Owen Arthur described Sir John as "a greatly beloved patriot" who belonged to the higher echelons of Caribbean heroes, while governor of the Central Bank of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Sir Dwight Venner, in the eulogy, credited Sir John as being "by far one of the most outstanding ministers of finance in the Caribbean".
Sir John's widow, Lady Compton, spoke of her husband's passion for the common touch, noting that Sir John came from "an era that one came to serve and not be served".
"He never lost his humility," she added.
From early morning St Lucians from all walks of life braved the sweltering heat and lined the streets of Castries to pay their last respects to the man regarded as "the Father of the Nation" or "Pa Pa".
There was sadness and joy among the thousands who had gathered outside the Parliament buildings as the body made its final journey to the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception church.
An oak casket draped with the national flag was drawn on a simple wooden platform at the back of the truck familiarly seen chauffered by Sir John.
"He was a very nice man to me, like a father. He did a lot for St Lucians," Princess Elvonvenus of Vieux Fort told the DAILY NATION, as she wiped away tears, while the ceremonial parade made its way from Parliament buildings.
The service, which began around 1 p.m., reflected some of the favourite things the former leader enjoyed, ranging from the dedication of two of his favourite hymns, Amazing Grace and What A Friend We Have In Jesus, to the strains of this year's calypso monarch, Menelle, who sang a remix of her Still Holding On – a tribute to Sir John's last election victory at the polls.
Hardbeatnews and The Jamaica Gleaner also reported on the funeral.
Rest in peace, Sir John.