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Tribute to Jacqueline Wynter nee Antrobus

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“You can gage the measure of a person

By the dedication of their children,

The enduring affection of their siblings,

The steadfastness of their friends.

That was Jackie.” – Peggy Antrobus, 2006

Jacqueline Wynter nee Antrobus, born in Layou in 1933, was laid to rest after a moving service at the Chapel of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, attended by family and friends.

The fourth child of Jemmott and Ruby Antrobus, she was sister of Ken (now deceased), Shirley Lewis, Clare Alves and Marcella Clarke, all now living in Canada. The Antrobuses were a devoted family. She married Hector Wynter of Jamaica (now deceased) and raised their three children, Astrid (now working with the Inter-American Development Bank in the Dominican Republic), Brian (Executive Director Financial Services Commission in Jamaica) and Colin (a barrister-at-law in London, specializing in insurance), almost single-handedly in the many locations in which she worked.{{more}}

People of our generation will remember Jackie as a brilliant, happy school-girl. She was an avid reader, artist and skilled in arts and crafts. She taught Health Science to the Elementary School “teachers-in-training” throughout the island, and English at the Girls’ High School. I owe her my love of Wordsworth and the English poets. In those days we were not ashamed to admit this!

Her life-story made her a role-model for many. She was one of that generation of West Indians prepared for leadership of our soon-to-be independent countries. Running a close second to her brother, Ken, in the 1951 Island Scholarship she was granted a bursary to the University College of the West Indies where she read History, later transferring to an Honors degree in English. There she was an exceptional student and active in campus activities, including being Secretary of the Historical Society. In his Tribute to Jackie, Rex Nettleford (who was President of the Historical Society when she was Secretary) had this to say: “Her principled position on just about everything that required intelligence, rational decision and positive action remained a touchstone of the Jackie Antrobus Wynter character throughout her life.”

Her life’s work was with UNESCO, first as a representative of the Jamaica National Commission and later as a member of staff of the organization, she served the organization in New York, London, Paris and Geneva. At UNESCO she won the friendship and loyalty of staff and associates from around the world. In his Tribute, her colleague, Yemi Lijadu, spoke of her work, as well as of the way she “endeared herself to everyone

because of her transparent honesty and openness.”

He referred to her contribution to UNESCO’s publication of the History of the Caribbean as “an eloquent example of her devotion and commitment to questions of particular interest to the Caribbean and its peoples…. She was the ideal international civil servant who, while not in any way losing her loyalty to her roots and nation, was yet capable of giving unprejudiced and committed service to the international community at large.”

Those of us who were privileged to know her will remember her infectious personality, wit, her character, and most importantly the manner in which she touched our lives and enhanced them with her own unselfish wisdom.

Rex sums it up best:

“To the end she remained the decent, wonderful, human being we all knew her to be – envious of no one, tolerant of transgressions of everyone she knew whether near or far, generous to a fault, gentle without being a pushover, cautious but with a firm grasp of reality when occasion demanded it. And above all, decent and loving.”

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