John Horne, former NDP West Kingstown representative, passes
Vincentians are mourning the death of former parliamentarian, John Horne, who died on Monday at the age of 76 years.
When news broke of Horne’s death this week, social media was flooded with expressions of condolence to his family and fond stories of a true gentleman and patriot.
Horne represented the West Kingstown constituency from 1984 to 2001 under the New Democratic Party administration of Sir James Mitchell. He was also a minister of government with responsibility for Education, Tourism, Trade and Culture at different points over his 17-year tenure, in addition to other portfolios from time to time.
Arnhim Eustace, former opposition leader, was among a number of persons who paid tribute to Horne during the New Democratic Party’s New Times radio programme on Tuesday.
“We know what John Horne meant to us, we the people of the New Democratic Party. We knew what John Horne meant to us and in this way, we try to bring some comfort to his family, some recognition to his contribution,” Eustace said.
The former opposition leader, reflecting on his time working alongside Horne, described him as “a real pleasure” who was open to everyone.
He said that Horne possessed a spirit that allowed anyone to approach him and be comfortable.
“He had no airs about his position as a minister. That didn’t occur to him and that for me was critically important. It’s because of his openness why people drafted him to become a politician. It was the people who drafted him. Then you had “Horne for dem”.
His personality, his goodness, his kindness…let us recognise what we have had in John Horne,” Eustace said.
Several persons also called into the programme to express condolences to Horne’s family and pay tribute to him.
“Even at times when we go out with Mr [Daniel] Cummings (the present parliamentary representative) on walks in West Kingstown, it have people still asking Mr Cummings, where is Mr Horne? Everybody loved Mr Horne. He had his faults, but he did well. He did us proud in West Kingstown,” one caller said.
Horne was heavily involved in the cultural aspects of this country and persons said that he will always be remembered as “a man of the arts”, a dramatist and singer in the Kingstown Chorale.
In his earlier years, he was a member of the ‘Bridge Boys’, a group of young men who hung out at the Back Street bridge over the North River in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was a Carnival enthusiast, an actor and a lover of theatre, and the history and heritage of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He was also described as “a staunch Anglican” and a man who was known to attract a crowd, even when he was out of politics.
“Mr Horne was a philanthropist. He would give everything. I could remember like just before school open, families would come up the steps to Galaxy Print and everybody would want school supplies and nothing was ever too much for Mr Horne to give,” another caller said.
After leaving the St Vincent Grammar School, Horne started his working life at the Barclays Bank where he moved through the ranks and served the bank in various countries around the region. On retirement from the bank, he became a businessman, following which he entered politics.
He is survived by his wife Jeanne, five daughters, other relatives and friends.
SEARCHLIGHT will publish on Friday, May 3, a full tribute in celebration of the life and work of John Horne.