Thousands bid farewell to Sir John Compton
September 21, 2007

Thousands bid farewell to Sir John Compton


Hundreds of St. Lucians joined regional and international dignitaries in a final farewell to their late Prime Minister, Sir John Compton, whom they affectionately dubbed ‘The Father of the Nation’, during a four-hour emotional funeral Tuesday.{{more}}

Despite the stringent measures implemented to ensure the safety of the foreign dignitaries that included most of the leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, ordinary citizens lined the streets of the capital to bid farewell to Sir John, 82, who died on September 7 at the private Tapion Hospital on the outskirts of the capital, after a prolonged illness.

Some wept openly in the streets that were also lined with schoolchildren and with the lighted torch – the symbol of the ruling United Workers’ Party (UWP) that Sir John formed in 1964 – as the police band led mourners to the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

In an emotional speech, his wife, Lady Janice, said she was grateful for the “man who touched my life and made my dreams come true,” and who “came from an era that one came to serve and not be served”.

“I shall forever search the universe and its twinkling stars for you; you will always be my great love,” the tearful Lady Janice said of the man whom she said had admitted that his return to politics might have been wrong.

“Perhaps I was too arrogant,” she recalled him saying, adding he had also said to her during his sickness: “Don’t get accustomed; we are not here for long.”

She said that Sir John had had a premonition that the end was near, and even while he had ventured back into active politics at the age of 81 to help reverse the direction that the island had taken, he reminded the entire country: “I will take you to the Promised Land, but I will not be there.”

She said that Sir John’s honesty and integrity were the hallmarks that made him stand out among many politicians. She added that he was also a common man who could “put on a jeans on the weekend to lay pipes for people that they could enjoy water”.

CARICOM chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur said that Sir John’s legacy would always be remembered in the Caribbean and the wider international community. “John Compton belongs on the echelons on the band of Caribbean heroes who transformed their country,” Arthur said, adding that he would always be “revered for the monumental service that he rendered not only to the people of St. Lucia, but the people of the Caribbean”. (CMC)