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Celebrating Sisnett (seated).
Celebrating Sisnett (seated).

In his 113 years on this earth it would be an understatement to say that James Emmanuel Sisnett has achieved many of his dreams.

Sadly, however, when he died early this morning he did so before fulfilling one of his last goals – reaching the age of 120 years.

Sisnett, who was Barbados’ oldest person and the world’s second oldest man, passed away peacefully “with a pleasantry on his face – like he was sleeping” at the Ocean View nursing home in Graeme Hall, Christ Church, his grandson Adrian Sisnett told Barbados TODAY.

Born on February 22, 1900, the super centenarian, in 1923 married Nita Dowling. She died in 1937 at the age of 32, leaving him to raise their five children. Six years later he wedded Josephine Evelyn and they produced six children. The couple stayed together until her death in 1992.

To support his family Sisnett worked at various factories including: Wakefield Plantation, Newcastle Factory where he learnt the blacksmith trade as well as Kendal Sugar Factory where he spent 52 years and was chief engineer until it closed in 1970.

As sons, Francis and Desmond gathered with Desmond’s wife Yvonne at their home in Sargeant Road, Ellerton, St. George this afternoon to reflect on the life of their father, Desmond, the oldest son, described the senior Sisnett as a great dad “who always looked after us”.

He said he was a disciplinary and was very strict on school and education; often instilling the importance of a sound education into his children and grands. This has resulted in at least seven doctors in the family so far.

Although the centenarian was a fair man, as he laughed, Francis, the youngest of the bunch, admitted he was also very frank.

“You couldn’t be bad behave,” he recalled. “I remember I did something wrong and he gave me six lashes and they lasted a week because he won’t give you all one time. He would give you one every week with a hard leather belt and when you get that one the burn would last you for at least six minutes.

“He had a hearing out of this world. He used to plant sugar cane and you know as children you would want to break off the cane and suck it? One day I went in the back and break the cane, he could see me but I remember he shout, “That is my last child!” and I run from the back and he come out and catch me with the cane. My father was a good man.”

Sisnett was born and bread in Toronto Road in Ellerton. In 2010 the Government of Barbados honoured him when Toronto Road was renamed the James Sisnett Road. He was a devout Christian and spent most of his life worshipping at the St. Luke’s Anglican Church in St. George.

To keep fit and healthy he did a lot of walking and enjoyed eating yams, cassava, eddos and other ground provisions and preferred to “wash them down” with bayleaf or sour sop tea. (KC)

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