Goodbye to a real man- John Horne
I really could not think of another way of describing the late John Horne. He was one hell of an individual, genuine as one can be. He lovedpeople and always gave them his undivided attention. No child was too small to command his attention. He was the same individual whether as a minister of government or in civilian life. I knew about him for a long time, since his brother was married to my grandmother’s niece. When I entered the Grammar School he had already left and was into banking. On returning from my first set of studies abroad John hosted me in Barbados and took me to meet a number of his friends. One visit was at a home not too far from the campus where I met some Dominican students. When I went to Barbados two years after to continue my studies, I met a student whom I later realised was one I was introduced to by John. The rest is history.
In 1984, I came home on vacation around carnival time. The date of elections had recently been announced and the night before John had officially been declared a candidate. I met him in town the next day around the area of the Old JuC building. Before we could greet each other, a woman came up and said “Mr John, ah hear you running. Well all ah have to say is Horne for Dem!” Becket’s calypso ‘Horn fuh dem’ was the popular calypso then. John’s entry into politics facilitated by a petition from residents of West Kingstown turned the political atmosphere up-sided down. I started walking with John in the direction of the Post Office.
That was unforgettable! It took us two hours to get to the Post Office because every man, woman and child passing by came up to him saying how happy they felt. It was John’s entry that upset the political climate where the governing party had boasted that it had caught the Opposition with its pants down.
John was articulate and an excellent orator. He was very much sought after to deliver eulogies at funeral services. In fact, I once suggested to him that he put an entry in the telephone directory listing his profession as ‘Eulogist’. Once he was in hospital hooked up to an IV. That afternoon there was to be a funeral for a member of one of the families he knew from Bottom Town. John pleaded with the nurses to take off the IV to allow him to do the eulogy. He did so and then returned to his hospital bed as if nothing had happened. What a man! He tried on occasions to get relatives of the deceased to do the eulogy, even offering to assist in writing it, but usually they wanted him.
He was a man of many parts; a dramatist, loved the steelpan and was closely associated with Starlift Steel Orchestra. He was a carnival lover and one of the leading lights of the Bridge Boys. What is perhaps not widely known is that before he left political office, he had drawn up a comprehensive plan for a system of National Honours. He had done all the necessary work and had everything in place. Whatever happened to that is anyone’s guess. As minister of Education he shepherded the establishment of what initially was to be an ‘A Level’ College. He felt we needed to move on and got the UWI involved in assisting the move to a Community College. He had also done advanced work on having a National auditorium.
One of his favourite past times was taking visitors to Dark View Falls and the Montreal Gardens as he sought to show them the beauty of SVG. At any function he attended he always made sure that persons had means of getting home even if it meant having to transport them himself. He was totally unselfish. That was the Man. People like him come once in a life time. A man of the people if ever there was one. John you have lived a good life!
My condolences to his family!