Farewell Sir Harcourt
Former Cabinet minister, senior public servant, trade unionist and financial manager, Sir Lawrence Vernon Harcourt Lewis was laid to rest this afternoon at Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens, following a moving service of thanksgiving at the Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown.
Hundreds of well-wishers, including Governor-General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and former Prime Minister Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, under whose administration Sir Harcourt served, joined with the family of the late Democratic Labour Party stalwart in paying their last respects at the official funeral.
The attendees witnessed the proceedings, not only from the lower and upper levels of the church, but from tents erected on the perimeter, equipped with large television screens.
It was a time in which the political divide was shattered as present and former Opposition Members of Parliament and their Government counterparts appeared to be of one mind and purpose – paying homage to a man described by some as one who got things done.
Goddaughter Dr Marcia Burrowes, who delivered the eulogy, recalled a private family moment that occurred prior to Sir Harcourt’s death at the Bay View Hospital on Beckles Road at the age of 84.
Dr Burrowes said that the night before his passing, his wife Claudette Lady Lewis was by his bedside.
She said that while they held hands, Sir Harcourt repeatedly squeezed his spouse’s hand for about an hour, prompting Claudette Lady Lewis to ask him why he was squeezing her hands so tightly.
The goddaughter did not reveal what the response was, but told the hushed congregation that they left at about 8 p.m. the Monday and the following day at 6 a.m., he had passed away.
The eulogist remembered Sir Harcourt as the man who fathered her – a mentor and a confidant.
The sermon, which was brought by the Reverend Clifton Morris reflected the message of hope for the living.
Throughout the service and later at the graveside, Sir Harcourt’s widow remained pensive, but dignified.
She was constantly surrounded by close relatives, particularly at the burial site.
At various moments as she sat under a nearby tent – looking across at the coffin – and flanked by relative Murriel Forde, Dr Burrowes, Heather Lewis and Prime Minister Stuart, the grieving widow constantly pressed her hands against her face or bowed her head.
But even though she tried to remain stoic, she could not contain herself as she emerged from laying a wreath on the mound of earth that covered the body of the man with whom she had spent more than 50 years of her life.
She cried out and was quickly escorted away from the grave.