PM Gonsalves saddened by Thompson’s passing
October 26, 2010
PM Gonsalves saddened by Thompson’s passing

Last weekend was a sombre one for Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who told SEARCHLIGHT Midweek that he is saddened by the passing of his friend and the former Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson.{{more}}

On Sunday afternoon, just before he hit the campaign trail, Gonsalves, when contacted at his home described his late friend as a regionalist. Thompson died at his home in Barbados last Saturday after a seven month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Speaking glowingly of Thompson, he described him as: “A man of sharp intelligence, tremendous wit …a family man. He is progressive and at a same time very respectful of traditions.”

He said he had known Thompson since he was a schoolboy, when he (Gonsalves) lectured at the Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies. On this note, Gonsalves said that he actually got to know Thompson on a personal level when he became a student at the university, and he is a friend of his mother, Margaret Knight, his wife Marie-Josephine Mara, his three daughters Misha, Oya and Osa-Marie.

“David Thompson has always been involved in politics, deeply committed to the people of Barbados and to this region,” said Gonsalves.

He lauded the late Prime Minister for the “important role” that he played, working alongside him, in keeping LIAT in the skies and helping to carry forward the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). He however stated that Thompson, Baldwin Spencer (Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda) and he had a lot of unfinished business with LIAT and the CSME.

“In fact, when David came to office in early 2008, within a week I went to see him. And I went to talk to him about the Regional Integration Movement. I went to talk to him about the CSME and about LIAT,” said Gonsalves, noting that they were also talking about fleet expansion of the airline before Thompson took sick.

He noted that Thompson’s ideas fell within the social democratic frame of former Barbados Prime Minister, Errol Barrow, who guided Thompson “as a youngster”.

Gonsalves said Thompson is not going to be easily replaced in Barbados, because he was a man who held tremendous experience, knowledge and insight.

“He has left a void, but it is life and we have to go on,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister said it is a very challenging time for the people of Barbados, but they are a strong people.

“They will meet this loss with fortitude,” said Gonsalves.

When asked if Thompson’s untimely passing brought to mind his former colleagues, the late Prime Ministers of Dominica (Rosie Douglas and Pierre Charles), Gonsalves said: “The deaths of Rosie and Pierre were really shocking in the sense that they were unexpected. Because David was ill for such a long time and given the nature of his illness, one knew that it would require a luck of the draw for him to survive and people were coming to terms with possibly not having him.

“But still when you die, it has a sense of finality on this earth that you still feel very terrible about it,” said Gonsalves.

He said when he heard of Thompson’s death last Saturday morning, he immediately reflected on Thompson’s mother, his wife and children.

“Every death of somebody whom you knew reminds you of your own mortality,” said Gonsalves, contending that sometimes “on this earth, we fight about a lot of vanity issues so we better bear that in mind.”

Yesterday, the Parliament of St.Vincent and the Grenadines paid a special tribute to Thompson. (HN)