Carlton Williams was a fearless man
September 14, 2007

Carlton Williams was a fearless man

He was never afraid to speak out, and did so loudly; when he committed to something, it was with his whole being.

Carlton Jerome Williams was born in Coulls Hill on September 12, 1926, to Irene Findlay-Williams and James Robert Augustus William Cato, a schoolteacher and trade unionist.{{more}} Young Carlton had his primary education at the Westwood Methodist School, an institution he described as a university. From there, Carlton went on to the St. Vincent Grammar School, then to Trinidad, where he studied Agronomy.

In those days, Agricultural Officers were required to live in the areas where they worked. Therefore, after graduating, Williams went to live in Georgetown, where he was posted to assist with the sugarcane industry. He remained there until the late 1950s, when he was transferred to the Experimental Station at Campden Park. There he worked with Agricultural Officers like Calvin Nicholls, the late Dr. Earle Kirby and the late Joshua Jackson. He was then assigned to Dominica to work with the Windward Islands Banana Association (WINBAN). When Mr. Williams retired from the Public Service in 1981, he had climbed the ranks, to the position of Chief Agricultural Officer.

A release from the Ministry of Agriculture said that Mr Williams will be remembered for hosting “one of the most successful National Agricultural and Industrial Exhibitions, under the theme ‘Produce More, Import Less’.” It was also while he was Permanent Secretary, under the leadership of Sir Vincent Beache, who was then Minister of Agriculture, that the Diamond Dairy was established and the sugarcane industry was reintroduced to this country.

An Anglican all his life, Mr Williams served his church in all its different ministries. At the time of his death, he was a Lay Reader and Chalice Bearer. Less than 24 hours before his death, he had robed as a Lay Reader and processed with the clergy at the 7:00 a.m. Mass in the Cathedral in Kingstown. Reverend Patrick McIntosh, Dean of the Cathedral, said that Williams was very committed to the Anglican Church. “He was caught up in the life and forward movement of the Church,” McIntosh shared. He represented the Anglican Church on the Christian Council, and over the course of his life, he was a member of the Men’s Fellowship, a member of the Board of Governors of the Bishop’s College Kingstown, a member of the Island Church Council and a visitor of the sick and shut-in in the Cane Garden area.

He was also a stalwart member of the Public Service Union (PSU) which, in a release, described him as an “activist and staunch supporter of the rights of the individual.” He served the union in various capacities, including Trustee and Treasurer of the Union.

Up until his death, he spent every working day, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Public Service Union office at McKies Hill, “helping out where he could, and assisting with grievances,” a PSU member of staff told Searchlight.

“Bro. Williams, who maintained his loyalty to the Public Service Union, was always present at meetings and made sterling contributions to the discussions… his loss to the Union would be tremendous, especially where it relates to the laws governing the operations of trade unions and the rights of workers,” PSU President Aubrey Burgin said.

Williams had a strong sense of community, and was also a member of the Ancient Order of Forresters, the Gideons Society, The Jaycees, The Boy Scouts Association, the House of Hope Society, and the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). Williams’ outspoken and rigid nature often got him into trouble with others. However, his son Colin said he spoke out because “he had certain principles he wanted enforced, and he lived by them… He did not care who was angry with him.” One such incident occurred while he was a Commissioner on the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). There he clashed horns with Chairman of the CRC, Parnell Campbell, who on his “The Law and You” programme last Monday, while expressing condolences to the family, described Williams as a “A law unto himself.”

Williams had a keen interest in politics and was a loyal supporter of the St. Vincent Labour Party (SVLP), the party of his brother, former Premier and Prime Minister, the late Robert Milton Cato. He provided unwavering support to the party over the years, and was at one point the Editor of the organ of the SVLP, the Star Newspaper. He last played an active role in politics during the 2001 elections when he was an Inside Agent in the East Kingstown constituency for the late Michael Hamlett.

Williams married Priscilla Anderson-Williams on December 26, 1950, a decision their son Colin said was “The best decision he ever made”. Together, the couple had five children: Cuthbert, Margaret (Caldwell), Yvadne (Isaacs), Grantley and Collin. His beloved Priscilla predeceased him by 9 years. She died on November 18, 1998.

“A good father,” is how his son Grantley described him. Grantley said his father fearlessly stood up for his children, and instilled in them a good sense of right and wrong. Colin supports this view and said his father did not do anything he was not committed to, and brought this same approach to fatherhood. He described him as a very disciplined man who had a regimented approach to life. “If he was not in Agriculture, he would have been in the military,” Collin reminisced, also mentioning that Williams loved and cared deeply for his nine grandchildren, whom he was adamant should read National Geographic magazines, and paid for magazine subscriptions to ensure that this was done.

Carlton Williams was found dead at his Cane Garden home on the morning of Monday, September 10. He will be laid to rest in the St. George’s Cathedral Church yard tomorrow, Saturday, September 15, after a funeral mass at the church at 3 p.m.