Eulogy of Anthony Gunn
October 12, 2007

Eulogy of Anthony Gunn

by Chester Connell at a memorial service at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Calliaqua, on Saturday, 6th October, 200712.OCT.07

I first met Anthony in his salad days when, even at that age, he would probably have argued that, though he was tender in years, he was not “green in judgment”, as William Shakespeare has inspired. Anthony was a precocious lad, developing his own particular brand of thinking at an early stage.

Anthony Allen Richardson Gunn was born on November 22, 1962, to Dick and Flora Gunn. He was a bouncy cheerful eight and a half pounder, and throughout his life remained cheerful, gregarious and generous.

The occasion of my first making his acquaintance was at a particularly happy event when we were both boys. Our families knew each other very well, having lived in the “ good ole days” of the forties and fifties at North River Road and Victoria Park, where Anthony’s grandfather, Allen Gunn and his wife, Violet, nee Hazell, raised their boys Geoffrey and Richard. A few yards away, around the corner, at Rees Bank, the house overlooking the river, Sibbleboyle and Katy Connell raised Robert, my father, Tracy, my uncle, and the whole brood of twelve Connell children.

One of those twelve, Evelyn, under the auspices of the London Ballet School, taught ballet in St. Vincent, conducting musical shows at the Aquatic Club. Incidentally, I am reliably informed that Allen Gunn, Anthony’s grandfather, was president of the Aquatic club in earlier times. Cheryl, Anthony’s sister, and several other young ladies, played a part in this particular musical show, and it was here that I met the boy, the bespectacled, the bright, Anthony Gunn. His boyishness always remained; decades later, we would still greet each other on the phone, and latterly on email, as, “boy for Connell” and “boy for Gunn”.

My next encounter with Anthony was at Wilson Hill one morning as we arrived simultaneously, I, just having been deposited from Clarky’s “ole van” arriving from Mt. William / Byera; Anthony, alighting from Aunty Flora’s little Toyota 1000 which, even then, seemed too small for Anthony’s 14-year old, tall frame. We were both arriving at an important juncture in our lives: we were about to become St. Martin’s boys, a great achievement then, I as a first former, he as a third former – Anthony had transferred from the Grammar School to St. Martin’s. We were also both about to become lifelong friends, and it was indeed the beginning of a sound friendship spanning three decades.{{more}}

At St. Martin’s, we ruled our own roost – at least we thought so. Every day at lunch time, toting our Spiderman or Superman lunch kits, it seems so childish now, we would earmark, reserve and occupy the very north eastern end of the top-floor verandah of the school. When kind Mr. Brooker gave me detention during lunch (well knowing that it was no big punishment because my buddy Anthony was on the outside of the classroom anyway) we slipped out the glass louvers and I climbed out, had lunch and climbed back in before the whistle, literally, was blown. Incidentally, Anthony would later certainly make Mr. Brooker, regionally renowned math teacher, proud, as Anthony achieved 2nd in the Caribbean for CXC Math. Yes, it was on that top-floor veranda that my friend would regale me with stories and pictures of his travels through Europe with Uncle Dick, Aunty Flora, Cheryl and Beverly.

Years later, as an adult, it would be stories of himself and other friends, Perry Hughes or Jeremy, his cousin, and good times in London, Belgium or France, sending the tired owners of pubs to sleep and locking up the place for them at 6 in the morning.

Anthony was always, always very sure of himself and what he had accomplished, what he was doing in the present or planned to do in the future. Anthony’s thinking came in extra large, even his speech and jokes were hyperbolic. When the La Soufriere volcano erupted in 1979 my father piled us into the Volkswagen Beetle dashing away from Mt. William estate, which he managed, and took us to town. Passing in at Villa to see the Gunns, Aunty Flora suggested that I should stay.

Mummy pointed out that I had no pajamas, to which Anthony replied “that’s ok, I have a hundred, he can have one of mine.” When he came to Mt. William to stay with me, he took charge again and led me on an organised mechanical inspection of all the vehicles in the garage, taking notes as if he were a Mercedes Benz engineer or maybe, Q, the fellow who created all James Bond’s fancy gadget’s, along the way explaining to right-brained me how each part made the car work. That was Anthony. That was in 1979. Anthony left the next year to study in the UK.

After studying electronic engineering at Guilford Technical Institute and graduating with distinction, he continued his studies at Porthcurno Engineering College in Cornwall. In 1983, I went to work at 705 Radio; Anthony’s scientific mind led him to work for Cable and Wireless, the company which, ironically, was to become his nemesis right up to his final days as he battled this behemoth in court. Anthony was an entrepreneur, a maverick, always seeking to cut new paths. When he left Cable and Wireless in 1986, he joined the family firm, and his entrepreneurial mind led him to start, in 1987, his own company, GCL, Gunn Communications Ltd, which manufactured a range of Digital PABX’s for the Caribbean market, under license from National Telephone Systems in England. At a time when such a concept was a brave undertaking, the company successfully manufactured systems ranging from 4 line versions to 64 external lines systems; these systems were sold to telephone companies in the Caribbean as far as Tortola.

Having broken into what was then a monopolistic market, GCL still managed to ensure it diversified into research and development. Haniff Sutherland, one of the GCL team, remembers that, under Anthony’s leadership, they developed a digital seismograph and an electronic jumper-less main distribution frame which would have revolutionized the telecoms industry. Haniff says that the creative thinking process, which Anthony encouraged in the GCL team, created a dynamic environment which rivaled that of companies in more developed countries.

As the PABX market became saturated, Anthony again shifted his company’s focus into the manufacture of specialized products such as surge suppressors, many of which were sold across the Caribbean, US and Latin American Market. The high reliability and strict quality control ensured some of these products are still in use in many offices in the world today.

In 1993, as fate would have it, I went to Illinois to study; Anthony migrated to Georgia to work. I remember visiting him; he had decided to create something new, again. He was creating a link between Georgia and SVG. He had invited a lot of important people, in conjunction with American Airlines, to a business function, and, basically, nobody turned up. He had rented a big room in a hotel, I think, catered, decorated, and no one showed up. He was so disappointed. That night was one of his low points, but he bounced back in short time and formed his Phone Line Company in Atlanta, which met with a considerable degree of success. Later, he in fact achieved his goal and was indeed successful in convincing American Airlines to fly to St. Vincent. Anthony was also a founding member of the Eastern Caribbean /American Chamber of Commerce. Even in the midst of failure, Anthony was constantly thinking of success and working on solving the crisis or resolving the situation or creating something evolutionary.

This was his intent, I think, when he conceptualized Cariaccess, which started in1998 at Wildey in Barbados, with offices in St. Vincent, Grenada, and St. Lucia. While expansion work was in progress, Anthony’s ever business-active mind, always seeking out new territory, led him to become Managing Director of IMT, International Management Trust Services Inc., an international financial services company based in Dominica. He assumed office on January 1st, 2006. In June of that year, his value and substantial contribution to the development of the region culminated in his being appointed Honorary Consul of Turkey to Dominica. He had now followed in the footsteps of his distinguished father, His Excellency, High Commissioner Richard Gunn, who was a gentleman and who exuded the essence of respectability and class, and who obviously laid down a framework upon which Anthony was to build.

I remember on one occasion, we must have been in our late teens, when Anthony and I decided we wanted to purchase some pizza. At that time, no one sold pizza in St. Vincent; our plan? Jump in his little fifteen-or-so-foot long dingy and go to Bequia to get the pizza at Mac’s Pizzeria. Would his dad allow us to make the trip? Not only did he allow us, he asked us to purchase some “contraband” while we were there: milk! At that time, the Diamond Dairy was accorded “pioneer status”, the end result of which meant that many Vincentians sought their milk elsewhere – “the continent”, as my father called it, of Bequia, was one of those places. We carried a spare outboard 15 horse-power Yamaha with us, and skitted across the Bequia Channel which, on that particular day, was like a swimming pool – flat calm. I think this was one of the reasons Uncle Dick let us go in the first place. The channel was in a good mood, and he trusted Anthony’s well developed seamanship. We pulled into capital Port Elizabeth, purchased our pizza, bought our booty and made off without delay back to “Port Gunn”, Rathomill, where we shared our spoils. Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean would have been duly impressed.

An avid Yachtsman, Vice Commodore of the Barbados Cruising Club, and creator of the Dominica Yacht Club in early 2007, Anthony designed, built, sailed and captained an assortment of dinghies, powerboats and yachts, including Bacchanal, his 28 ft Trinidad- built Bowen powerboat, which he eventually sold, and Bacchanal Too, his 47 ft yacht, which is a labour of love he refurbished, and which he took great pleasure plying between the Windwards and Barbados. It was often anchored out side Beachcombers, his family’s hotel which he also helped his mother and sisters expand. He was to have raced next month in an event between Dominica, Guadeloupe and St. Marteen. Anthony also led the Dominica Yacht Club in races at the Bequia Easter Regatta this year, performing with some class. According to Anthony, “As far as the record shows, this was Dominica’s first representation and introduction to a competitive sailing event. We were proud to be the first, as this will not be the last in our efforts to promote Dominica sailing” Unquote. Anthony, a Vincentian, also led the Dominica Yacht Club to win races in St. Lucia in May this year. This was a true Caribbean man, a real leader, who was living the CSME.

Most people try to find happiness, and in the process lose themselves. For Anthony, it was a little different. He had, I think, found himself and happiness. In the last days of his life in this realm, he just wanted to… BE himself. Anthony had a very strong sense of his identity; he told me that he knew who he was from the time he was three years old. Nobody told Anthony Gunn what to do, not his family, not me or any of his friends, not Cable and Wireless and certainly not malady of any kind. I think right up to the very end as he was passing friendly instructions from his hospital bed to his beloved mother and sisters for his laptop, his cell phone – and a red Ju-C, Anthony decided, “listen, it’s either my way or the King’s Highway”. And I think, like any great statesman and leader, Anthony knew which battles to fight and when to make his exit; he had lived a life that was full, he had charted many a sea route and highway, on the road and in the sky, from Dominica to Dubai, and he certainly did it the Anthony Gunn way.

I’d like to conclude with a very short, ten-line poem – with your involvement. This [congregation at St. Paul’s Anglican Church] is a community of Christ, a community of Anthony’s friends and family who all know him as, “Zooms”. The poem is called “ZOOMS – That’s Anthony”. When I read a line I want you to respond with “That’s Zooms”.

ZOOMS – That’s Anthony

Red Ju-C, Red and white Beachcomber Party – that’s Zooms
Christmas fete Beachcomber bar wet, dancing to Becket -That’s Zooms
“Cheryl… I have lots of time to get to the gate”… but he ends up at Heathrow late – that’s Zooms
Creating companies from SVG to the UK from Barbados to USA – that’s Zooms
Love to work hard and LOVE a fete bad – that Zooms
For the right to ISP- access He alone fought Cable and Wireless – That’s Zooms
You never know where he is but positive thoughts about you are his – that Zooms
A better friend you could never want, himself though, he would never vaunt – that’s Zooms
He will forever be known, as a man who created much on his own – that’s Zooms
A man who did it, to the end his way, let me hear his name, you say – That’s Zooms!