Former PM bids farewell to father
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur today bade farewell to his father, saying he was an exemplary parent and community member.
Delivering the eulogy before a packed All Saints Anglican Church in St Peter, Arthur said his loved one, Frank Arthur, who died on May 10 at age 89, treated his obligations as a parent with complete seriousness and sensitivity.
The prominent Benn Hill, St Peter shopkeeper, carpenter, joiner and butcher, made sure his children had, and understood the meaning and value of family. Frank Arthur owned land, and his children had to help to work it to supplement the family’s income.
He left them in no doubt as to their abilities and limitations and obligations, including becoming members of the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides. The former Prime Minister said in addition to those duties, he had to attend the library every week.
“We had to take our education with seriousness. We could not loiter on the streets, nor disrespect our elders, or any member of this community. He instilled values in us by the examples that he set.
“He improved his house, putting in water and electricity, installed a telephone and other amenities when and only when he could afford it. He lived an honest life as a small businessman,” Arthur noted.
The former Prime Minister recalled that while he was growing up, his father ensured that the needs of his large family, including his wife of 34 years, were fully met.
“He was not a saint,” Arthur added.
“He had no difficulty expressing himself to people in terms that left them in no doubt as to what was on his mind. He had the most stubborn streak of independence that made it very difficult for some people to deal with him,” he added.
The Member of Parliament for St Peter recalled that when he entered politics in 1984, after spending ten years in Jamaica, he benefited from the reputation, character and goodwill enjoyed in the community by his parents.
Arthur recalled that his father wanted him, his first son, to have all the educational opportunities he did not have, and sacrificed for this offspring’s dreams to come true.
He pointed out that there was no photograph of him and his father when he served as Prime Minister, as the elder Arthur chose to stay behind the scenes.
“He did not attend any of my swearing-in as Prime Minister because as far as he was concerned, it was about me and not about him. He never attended public meetings at which I spoke, nor any of the official events, or ceremonies of the government I led. He did not seek the spotlight. Twice and only twice did he gave me advice,” he said.
One of those occasions, he noted, was in 2003 when his father told him the people of St Peter wanted him to run for office again.
Arthur also indicated that his father still wanted to care for himself in his advanced age and refused to rest that burden on his son’s shoulders.
He added that the businessman formed lasting friendships with people from all walks of life, and also served in the Lodge, reaching the rank of grand master.
Delivering the Sermon Reverend Selven Lowe described the former lifelong member of the All Saints congregation as a man who was committed to his walk with God.
Reverend Lowe recalled that even in illness and during his last days, Frank Arthur continued to be steadfast.
“Frank did not allow anyone, or any condition whatsoever, to prevent him from giving thanks to God,” he preached.
The reverend also told the congregation that death was an occasion that caused great fear and worry for many in the world. However, he said the faithful and firm believer was able to approach and stare death in the face with great calmness and peace.
Lowe said to be able to accomplish this fate, people needed to make time for God in the midst of being occupied with striving for a higher standard of living, just like the late Arthur did.
“This community and this church is blessed and yet because of the vast contribution of our great brother who made a contribution towards the building of this kingdom here on earth. He was one to put his hand to the plough and one who did not turn back from any task in this church, regardless of its size,” Reverend Lowe said.
Some of the prominent Barbadians who attended the service and interment in the churchyard were former President of the Senate Sir Fred Gollop; cricket legend Sir Wesley Hall; the current President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill; Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington; Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler; Minister of Housing Denis Kellman; Independent Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard; Opposition Barbados Labour Party MPs Dale Marshall, George Payne, Kerrie Symmonds, Ronald Toppin, Dwight Sutherland, Jeffrey Bostic and BLP candidates Colin Jordan and Reverend Joseph Atherley.