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Canouan hosts Memorial service for Sir John Compton

Canouan  hosts Memorial service for Sir John Compton


August 29, 2009, marked 70 years exactly since the late Sir John Compton left the shores of Canouan to pursue studies in St. Lucia, a move that would change the lives of many.{{more}}

In honour of this, a fitting memorial was held for him at the Anglican Church at Carenage Canouan, where he was baptized and where he served as a boy. Lady Janice Compton and his children Sean Compton and Jeannine Compton (who now holds his seat in the constituency of Micoud North, St. Lucia) attended the Memorial. Some of Sir John’s ashes were placed in the church behind the Epitaph which, written by Poet Laureate Derek Walcott, reads: “This is your canoe. Rest in it Captain, with crossed oars.”

Also attending the Memorial were Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and his wife, Prime Minister Stephenson King of St. Lucia and his wife, Former Prime Minister and friend and relative of Sir John, Sir James Mitchel, as well as Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and his wife. There were also present many family members from across the Caribbean, and family and well wishers from Canouan.

The touching ceremony was held in the beautifully restored Anglican Church of Canouan, located in the middle of the five star Raffles Resort. Lady Janice Compton gave a most loving tribute to her late husband, where she set out the importance Sir John placed on his roots in Canouan as well as the type of person and leader he was. She indicated that the most important trait of her late husband was that “he bore malice to no one”, no matter what wrong they had done to him. She also told the loving and funny tale of how they met, as well as stories from his childhood in Canouan and of the hardships he and the people of Canouan then endured. And bringing tears to the congregation she ended by saying “We miss you, John”, echoing the sentiments of all present.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” was part of the reading from Proverbs chapter 22 that was read by Sir James Mitchell, speaking to the integrity of the man that was Sir John.

There was a beautiful spirit at the church and it was touching to see that when the priest called on members to exchange greetings of “peace be with you” around the church everyone participated with a spirit of joy that is often absent from the world of politics that Sir John left behind.

In an interview with IK TV after the Memorial, Lady Janice said that it meant a great deal to her family to have the memorial in Canouan and to place his ashes there. She said that it was in a way the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end coming together. When asked why it was important to him to attend the memorial, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that no matter what one thought of Sir John’s politics one had to recognize his place in history and his contribution as a politician. Meanwhile, the present Prime Minister of St. Lucia gave direct credit to Sir John for his role in catapulting him into politics, both by inspiring him in his early days and later by actually appointing him as a Senior Minister. His son Sean told IK TV how it was a ritual of their childhood to sail to the Grenadines and to stop and to walk the island of Canouan was always a highlight for them. Sean also tearfully said that while his dad lived over 80 years, he was still gone too soon. Member of Parliament Jeannine also spoke of how having the memorial in Canouan was very important to the family because her father never forgot Canouan.

To demonstrate the ongoing commitment of the Compton family in the area of education, Lady Janice donated a PA system to the school in Canouan. The gift was handed over to the Headteacher of the school at a reception held for the people of Canouan after the Memorial Service.