Medford, 100 not out

Barbados’ newest centenarian Francis Medford Clarke has lived most of his life at sea.

Growing up in Foul Bay St Philip, his love the ocean was not at all surprising, neither was his decision to pursue a career as a fisherman at the tender age of 16.  By then it was a family legacy – his father and brothers were all fishermen.

In all, Clarke’s mother had 11 children.

At 100 years old, his close-knit clan now boasts of nine surviving children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Determined to mark today’s milestone with a “bang”, the family launched a week-long “Medford Not Out” birthday jamboree. This gave Clarke the opportunity to return to his second home – the sea – following his retirement at the age of 88.

Granddaughter Sharon Coppin standing next to her grandfather centenarian Francis Clarke.

Grandfather went out to sea and got young again. He walked up the gangway with no assistance and if you’d seen him, he was a young man again. It was beautiful to see,” said granddaughter Sharon Coppin, in reporting on the highlight of the week.

Today, the celebrations continued with the customary visit by Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave.

Centenarian Francis Medford Clarke sits with the hamper he received from the Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave.

Clarke was dressed to the nines in a black and blue suit, as he also welcomed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as well as family members from Canada and the United States.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart sits next to Pastor Elda Lowe of the Power In The Blood Assembly at the celebratory event.

The Prime Minister congratulated the former St Philip resident on reaching his century. He went on to express his gratitude for the contribution which Clarke had made over the years to the fisheries industry.

As the latest centenarian sat quietly savouring his special moment, daughter Cynthia Alleyne said her father’s mind has always been at sea. 
He’s always in the ocean, Sunday’s, bank holidays, he doesn’t stay home,” 55-year-old Alleyne said, adding that he was never short on tales from his maritime adventures.

One his favourite stories to tell was of 1942 when 49 boats from Barbados went adrift. Clarke’s own boat capsized when he was 30 miles offshore.

Today he was hailed as a sweet man and devoted father, who though quiet, was strong-willed, witty and a devoted Christian.

Centenarian Francis Clarke reading his birthday card.
Centenarian Francis Clarke reading his birthday card.

If he wasn’t a fisherman, he would have been suited to be a pastor, suggested his last surviving daughter.

A devoted Christian, Alleyne explained that Clarke, who woke up every morning to sit on his bed and pray, instilled in her the need to read Psalm 91 daily.

When asked to share his secret to his longevity, Clarke jokingly responded, “the waves”.

(Story and photos by Katrina King)

7 Responses to Medford, 100 not out

  1. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce May 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Happy 100th Birthday Grandad!

  2. Karen Cox
    Karen Cox May 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Happy birthday

  3. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock May 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Congrats sir!

  4. Dianne Griffith
    Dianne Griffith May 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Happy birthday to you congratulations on making such a great mile stone may God continue to bless you you are looking great for 200 keep it up

  5. Mhizz Joan Moore
    Mhizz Joan Moore May 21, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    I saw him on Friday an he looks really good an strong for 100,may god bless and keep you to see many more

  6. David Gibbs May 22, 2016 at 7:33 am


  7. dave May 22, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS old Gunner ! Age is honour ; Respect in every aspect . May you reign for a another 100 years and a lot more after that !!


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