Moving tributes as Sir Frederick is laid to rest
There was some laughter and there were tears today for Sir Frederick Smith as those who knew him well and those more familiar with his reputation and his years of service to church and country filled the James Street Methodist Church in The City for one last opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of the country’s first post-independence Attorney General.
In one moving tribute after another, Sir Frederick was lauded for his honesty, humility and his big heart, with everyone concluding he loved being a humble servant.
In one of the moments of hilarity, his daughter Astrid Smith-Breedy spoke of her father enjoying the company of his grandchildren playing dominoes with them and allowing them to romp all over him.
“Had I known that grandchildren were so nice and loving, I would have by-passed being a father [and go straight to being a grandfather,” she recalled her father saying in jest.
His sense of humour aside, her father was never ashamed to speak openly of his humble social origin, nor was he ever unwilling to assist those who sought his help, she said.
“My daddy was down to earth. He had friends from all walks of life. He was also a man who spoke the truth. If you do not want to know the truth you had better not ask his opinion on anything,” Smith-Breedy told those gathered for Sir Frederick’s funeral service.
However, inside his heart of gold was a fierce advocate for the dispossessed, Smith-Breedy said, particularly in the House of Assembly where he often clashed with the Speaker.
She recalled arriving home from school on many a Tuesday afternoon to find her dad at home.
Fearing each time that he had lost his job, she would ask why he was home so early, only to be told: “I am home early because once again the Speaker of the House of Assembly has thrown me out.”
Smith-Breedy recalled that her father’s greatest honour came when St James Secondary School was renamed the Frederick Smith Secondary School.
Sir Frederick’s son Craig Smith also spoke of his father as a man whose love for country never wavered, and who was concerned about the welfare of Barbadians until the very end.
Even on his dying bed, Craig said, his father wished Barbados a happy 50th anniversary of Independence and also wished it well in the next 50 years, no matter who assumed the leadership.
In addition to Sir Frederick’s commitment to family and country, there was a strong devotion to his church, according to Methodist cleric The Reverend Dr Cuthbert Edwards, who described Sir Frederick’s passing as one step closer to the end of a species of Caribbean men whose lives were centred on church, family and community.
Edwards said the former politician and jurist was a churchman, a family man, lay-preacher, a leader and a public servant who was not arrogant, selfish, or self-centred, but instead was selfless and compassionate.
He recalled that on reaching the age of 40 Sir Frederick became a member of James Street Methodist Church and a lay-preacher, a practice he continued for the remainder of his active life.
Sir Frederick was also remembered as “a great lawyer and community figure in the region” by President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Denis Byron, who told Barbados TODAY he had admired the former jurist for most of his career as a lawyer and a judge.
“I had to come and show my respects to him both as a human being and as a great lawyer and as a community figure in the region,” Sir Denis said.
Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave and Lady Belgrave headed a list of dignitaries which included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson; members of Cabinet; members of the judiciary; Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley; members of the House of Assembly; leading members of the legal fraternity and Sir Denis.
Sir Frederick died on July 11, age 92, and was buried in a private ceremony following today’s funeral service.