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EULOGY

EULOGY

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15.SEP.06

An unavoidable sadness of those who live for more than ‘three score and ten’ is that there are few around to remember their glory days. Few will remember the vivacious Ches’ Gibbs. Ches’ Gibbs, the senior civil servant who walked with kings but never lost the common touch, the consummate story-teller, but those who do will know that his passing marks another milestone on our journey away from a past that was critical for our emergence from colonialism. He had a long innings and played it with distinction.

He attended the Grenada Boys Secondary School and was a teacher and house master there before entering the administrative service. One of the many students he inspired, Lamuel Stanislaus, a former Grenadian Ambassador to the UN, wrote in a testimonial to him in 2000:{{more}}

“As a student …. I profited immensely from his tutorial, counseling and athletic skills. I credit Mr. Gibbs among others for much of what I have accomplished in my boyhood, adolescence and manhood.”

He was one of the first generation of West Indians groomed by the British for leadership in the Colonial Service. Gifted with a brilliant mind, remarkable good looks and unerring charm, he rose in the ranks of the Windward Island public service to become one of the first West Indians to serve as the crown’s representative – as Administrator of St.Vincent. He served the Governors of the Windwards (then a unitary state), living in all but Dominica. He presided over the granting of adult suffrage and the change to the Ministerial System of government, and witnessed the attainment of Statehood, Independence and the creation and dismantling of the Federation of the West Indies.

In 1946 he was commissioned by the then Administrator of St.Vincent, Ronald Garvey, to prepare a Development Plan of the Colony of St. Vincent. It was the first of its kind and served as a blue print for St.Vincent’s socio-economic development for many years. It was his magnum opus, his pride and joy. It was the only possession he treasured, and kept close to him to the end.

He was also proud of the water tank in Hillsborough, Carriacou, named for him by the people of Carriacou in appreciation of his leadership in the rehabilitation effort following Hurricane Janet in 1955.

Over the years he served Grenada in many different capacities, most recently in 1983/4, as Secretary of the Constitution Commission, under the Chairmanship of Sir Fred Phillips.

He was a wonderful father to the 5 children of his marriage to Kathleen. He inspired their education, a formidable work ethic and their commitment to public service.

He lived for many years in the UK, after his retirement from the public service in the Windwards and Jamaica, working in the new field of Community/Race Relations. In his second retirement he returned to the region with his second wife, Sybil (nee Paul from Carriacou), seeking out the beaches in Carriacou and Bequia to live in Grenada and St.Vincent.

In 2003 he moved to Barbados for surgery and remained there to be closer to his son Tony, daughter Peggy Antrobus and grandson Gerrit Antrobus.

He inspired loyalty, devotion and enduring affection from those who knew him. For his 80th birthday, his son-in-law, Ken Antrobus wrote him a poem “80 Not Out” with the following verse that sums up what he meant to those who knew him:

Your kith and your kin and your friends all salute
A colourful life – that none will dispute. Details we’ll eschew, it’s the substance we count –
And the fun and the wisdom that pour from your font.

He leaves to mourn his wife Sybil, his former wife Kathleen and their 3 children – Peggy Antrobus and Tony Gibbs, living in Barbados, and Betty Peter, living in Trinidad – his son Tommy living in New York, nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

In his last years, in the Seniors’ Home in Barbados where he lived, he had the good fortune to share a room with a Barbadian teacher who helped him recover his knowledge and love of the Latin scholars and English poets. They sharpened each other’s minds and their intellectual powers returned. When Ches’ Gibbs died his new friend provided a quotation from Tacitus’ Agricola, a fitting farewell to a great West Indian:

“Si quis piorum manibus locus est
Si quis ut placet sapientiae magnae animae non periuntur
Placide requiescat in Pace”
If there is a place for the souls of honourable men,
If, as scholars believe, great souls do not perish,

May you rest in peace.

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