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Eulogy for Lawrence E. Bascombe

Eulogy for Lawrence E. Bascombe

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by Ashley R. Cain 20.MAR.09

A life in our time

If how you deal with adversity is the measure of a man, then Lawrence E. Bascombe, better known as “Larry”, was a giant among men. I first knew Larry as a schoolmate at the Richland Park Government School. He was full of life and did not back down from a fight. On hindsight, this boisterous energy was always one of his distinguishing traits. When I left for secondary school in 1972, we lost each other.

Larry started his working life as an auto mechanic, a field which interested him even as a child. An accident, with a “ten ton truck”, as an eighteen year old, changed his life and placed him on course for a life of self sacrifice, community service and dedication to duty that has been unmatched by few Vincentians in my lifetime. {{more}}

After his accident, Larry went into his shell. It was an inward journey to gather strength, conviction, belief in himself, doubts about a loving God, and to refocus his life priorities. For him, art and poetry became a way to deal with his life challenges. Somewhere on this journey into himself, he became tougher and focused. He also turned to politics, influenced by his grandfather and his wife. He redefined himself as a politician and ran as an independent candidate for the Marriaqua Constituency. He also became a member of the Movement for National Unity (MNU).

Larry had a keen sense for justice and fair play. He believed firmly in the capacity of the human spirit to deal with and overcome adversity. These beliefs led him into electoral politics, community activism and sports administration. It was in this latter field (Sports Administration) that he distinguished himself. He was twice a member of the executive of the Football Federation (SVGFF). Many evenings I had to carry him up and down stairs to get to his meetings. For me he was never heavy. He was my brother. In fact Larry was closer to me than my own brothers.

His greatest contributions as sports administration, however, were reserved for his own community of Marriaqua. As member and President of the Marriaqua Sport Association, Larry contributed, through sickness, pain, sunshine and rain, day and night towards providing opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen of Marriaqua and beyond to improve their skills and achieve their potential in sports.

He led the reintroduction of softball cricket, basketball and netball competitions in Marriaqua. He pushed himself up and down the hills of the Marriaqua Valley and other parts of St. Vincent. Larry, like true champions, defied the pain barrier on numerous occasions to achieve, not personal goals, but the goals and aspirations of the many persons for whom he has provided outstanding leadership.

As a sports administrator he was demanding and firm. Once he decided on a course of action, he went forward with it despite opposition from others. Larry learnt how to extend his reach by working through other people. In this way he overcame the physical disability that would have stopped many other persons.

Larry’s commitment to his ideals, his honesty and sometimes brutal frankness has etched him indelibly in the memory of those who knew him as a champion among men. He was honoured by the International Olympic Association. Larry embodied in himself all the noble ideals that drove the early Olympians – valor and courage in the face of adversity and challenge.

Many persons in St Vincent would not have recognized him if they passed him in the street. Few, however, would not recognize his voice instantly on national radio. He was a strong and distinctive voice in the local media, whether as a contributor to the newspaper on topical issues or as the strident voice of Call in Radio Programmes.

Larry would put forward his views in his own inimitable style, as he articulated national ideals or laid to waste the pretensions of many who would seek to take the nation for a ride in pursuit of their own private agendas. He was always incisive, like a surgeon’s knife and always controversial. Larry the politician and radio commentator (like his friend Frank De Silva) has caused many to pause for a while to reflect critically on their thoughts and actions they were about to take.

As sports reporter on Radio 705 and others, Larry brought a new standard to local sports reporting. In his distinctive way, Larry took you to the sporting event and brought it to life. His reports were so descriptive, you would never believe, that Larry was absent from the sporting event on which he was reporting.

In his private moments Larry was a painter and artist. His dwelling house was adorned by his own paintings, love quotes and poetry. He was a songwriter who loved the Country and Western genre of music. Larry would write his thoughts down on paper. These lesser known creative sides of Larry Bascombe are part of his legacy.

They also betrayed the softer, delicate side of a man who had a passion for the good and the lovely – especially women. I listened to him many times, sparring verbally with ladies, as he threatened them with the love which he would have laid on them had it not been for his physical condition.

In looking back at his poetry and private love notes (which he considered to be his real wealth), we see gems that may provide a good basis for many cards at Valentine Days, Birthdays and Christmas. Through them he gave us a glimpse of a man who was as hard as nails outside yet equally soft and romantic inside.

Larry was street smart. He was friend to all in his community from young children to old people. Even when he stung you with his fiercest words, they were never full of malice but part of the robust cut and thrust that is life today.

Larry was a fundraiser par excellence. He begged shamelessly for money to support the development of sports in Marriaqua. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, over the years, for sports in his beloved community, but never a cent for his private use. He was fiercely independent and insisted that he would not be bribed. He must be free to criticize whomsoever he wished in the nation’s interest. This side of Larry is more remarkable when we consider that Larry lived for years in sub-human conditions while raising money for community work. Rats, bats, cockroaches, lizards, ants and leaking roof were his constant companions.

He rebuffed many offers of help to improve his living conditions. With his characteristic stubbornness, he refused help on the ground that he would be beholden to no man nor woman. He treasured his independence of speech and thought with a passion. It took him almost a year, and some gentle persuasion from Desmond Morgan, Cheryl Rodriguez and myself, to accept help from the NCB to make his home livable. Any favours accepted by him was done on the grounds that it was not a bribe nor a surrendering of his right to “straighten” you if he felt it necessary. Even his closest friends felt the barb of his tongue when they transgressed.

Today we salute Lawrence E Bascombe. “Larry” – Vincentian patriot, nationalist and fine example of that which is most noble in the human spirit i.e the ability to journey through the deepest trials of the human person and spirit to stand as a man to be saluted always for the quality of his life.

Finally let me address a question that many have asked me. Did he remain an atheist until death? For years Larry professed to be an atheist. He couldn’t reconcile his accident with the existence of a loving God. Would a loving God allow such an accident to happen to him? When I looked at him in death, eyes open and looking boldly at the world and with a slight smile on his face, I am assured that, at the end, he made his peace with the God he had struggled with for a long time.

May he enjoy his eternal rest. Farewell my brother. Farewell.

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