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Eulogy of Theodore Westfield John

Eulogy of Theodore Westfield John


Fri, Oct 15, 2010

Eulogy of Theodore Westfield John AKA – Jericho, Shorty John

Delivered by Grenville John at the funeral service held on Monday, October 11, 2010, at the St. Matthias Anglican Church, Evesham.

The first of two sons for Matilda Robertson and Daniel John, was born on May 18, 1925. He obtained his education at the Evesham Methodist School. He often spoke of his achievement of placing first in class throughout his school years. After leaving school, he did his apprenticeship at the Public Works Department under the tutorship of Mr. Sam Browne. As his brilliance shone out, he was soon elevated to foreman, where he constructed various government buildings, including Schools, Clinics, Hospitals, Police Stations and Post Offices.

When the Canadian Government offered assistance with the water system of this country, he was drafted into that project where he spent many years. He gained tremendous experience working on that project. He was a Foreman with the responsibility for the construction of the Montreal, Majaka, Dorsetshire Hill and Dallaware Water Systems. His management and organisational skills, and his professional outlook to life came from those experiences. He was able to see the big picture, and that whatever goals one sets his mind to can be achieved.

His first relationship, produced the first joy of his life, his first child and daughter, Joy Matthews.{{more}}

Later he met and married Flora Whittle, and that union produced seven children – Reuben, Etheldrea, Grenville, Anesta, Michael, Cecelia and Theresa. Sadly, his first wife died in 1968, leaving the oldest of the seven children being only 10 years and the youngest eleven months. The mettle of our father was tested during the following ten years, 1968 to 1978. However, he lived up to his responsibility 100 %. He played the role of mother and father. He cooked, washed and iron for us. During this period, his parental and home management skills came out; he never once neglected his responsibility; he provided for his family to the best of his ability and ensured that we had everything we needed to grow up.

In the mid seventies, he met Cynthia (Vel) Harry while working on the Montreal Water project, and in 1989 they married. That union produced six children – Alexis, Phyllis, Fenton, Andrel, Phylicia and Hance. Throughout their marriage Vel has been a tower of strength and support to him.

Our father was a visionary. He instilled in us that nothing is unachievable. He ensured that all his fourteen children attended primary school, and also obtained secondary school education, a record for one family. From this spring board we were able to launch into our individual professions.

That was no easy achievement bringing up young children in an environment with all the challenges and distractions out there, having us follow the straight and narrow way into respectable professions.

His determination to have all fourteen children obtain secondary education and having achieved this with measurable success, I think it can be stated that the education revolution started with him. Even back then, he had the vision and fortitude to realize that education was the key to upward mobility and ensuring a better standard of living, and this he wanted for all his children.

Our father was a:

Disciplinarian- He instilled in us the importance of church and worship; He was a God fearing man with strong commitment to the Anglican church. All of us had to attend church every Sunday and take part in church activities: Sunday School, Church choir, Harvest, Concerts, Good Friday and Easter services. My father never missed a Good Friday service. Sometime ago, Von Barker, former Parish Priest, said to me: “your father is an incredible man” referring to my dad journeying all the way to Richland Park to attend Good Friday service.

Our father was a humanitarian – He offered his voluntary service, skills and advice to persons in the community and beyond, repairing houses and conducting other masonry work. When there was a death in the community, he was often called upon to assist in the building of coffins. As children we recalled weekends when some “big man” will turn up at our gate in a vehicle to take our dad at their home to do voluntary work.

Westfield John was a walking Institution; Small in stature and simple in appearance, yet brilliant and sophisticated in his ideas, plans and performances.

His personal achievement over the years included:

Artist – during the 1970’s in an Exhibition held at Evesham Methodist School his artistic skill came out with his Fibre Bird creation–a bird made from coconut fibre winning the 1st price.

Farmer – Leader in banana production, and known for rearing some of the finest livestock in the community: goats, sheep, pigs but mainly cattle, and in the earlier period, supplied milk to the community (cuddy, one of his cows would easily fill a 5 gallon bucket with milk on a daily basis. He was honoured by his community for his contribution to Nation Building.

He was a cultural Icon; he drew large crowds and entertained persons everywhere he went (chatting, giving jokes and buying food and drinks to all who would partake. He was a great entertainer).

It’s no wonder his last son, ‘the man Hance’, was able to capture the junior soca monarch four times, his granddaughter, Princess Shaz, captured that same title once; the “Stinger man” Skarpyon, his grandson, has many titles, and Fenton, his son, is of gospel fame.

In good times and bad times, through the thick and thin, his motto was based on this poem:

“Standing at the foot boy,
Gazing at the sky
How can you get up boy?
If you never try
Though you stumble off, boy,
Never be downcast
Try and try again boy
You’ll succeed at last”

He was also very proud and satisfied with the achievements of his children and grandchildren, and kept no secret about it. He had every reason to be. He let the world know. And why shouldn’t he? Once someone says to me “I met your dad”, especially if they said, “I met ‘Jericho’”, then I knew I had no more secrets; my entire life story would have been told.

We are also proud of his achievements, and he knew how we felt about him. We reminisced over these, and much more at our family gatherings which were never dull moments, led by himself as chair and the likes of Reuben, Michael, Fenton, Anesta and Cleo cracking jokes. These were sessions where as we say “ people laugh ‘till they cry”.

From time to time our father would jokingly say that his family can run this country, and he would proceed to name his cabinet as follows:

He, being the Prime Minister and Minister of Works & Agriculture, positions, not to be challenged, and the other cabinet members as follows:

For the Ministry of Finance- Reuben – Chartered Accountant, Fenton-Banker, and Theresa-Credit Union Executive,

For the Ministry of Health and the environment, Etheldrea-Family Nurse Practitioner.

For the office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Grenville – Barrister-at-Law and Solicitor.

For the Ministry of Information and Technology- Michael – IT Specialist,

For the Ministry of Education- Joy, Educator/Head teacher, and Anesta, Qualified Assistant Teacher,

For the Ministry of Trade and Consumer Affairs-Alexis, Executive Marketing manager, and Cecelia, Sales Representative,

For the Ministry of National Security – Andrel – Police Officer.

For the Ministry of Labour, Phyllis/Cleo – Administrative Employment Executive,

For the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Hance –four times Junior Soca monarch, and now second year community college student,

and last but not least

Phylicia- a recent graduate of the Community College, Cabinet Secretary,

He is our hero, he was an inspiration to us and we owe a debt of gratitude to him. We give thanks and glory to God for his life.

Hard work, honesty and integrity were his hallmark. He enjoyed many aspects of his life, meeting, greeting and entertaining relatives, friends and others. He enjoyed farming, his trade work and community service, but most of all he enjoyed caring for his children, bringing us up to love the Lord, watching us grow and develop into adults and being satisfied with our achievements. We know that he loved the Lord.

He lived a full live – After achieving 70 years, he would often say that the Bible says three score plus ten and that he had already attained that age.

He was not a perfect man. None of us is.

My father died a very proud and satisfied man. He was satisfied with his achievements and looked forward to his life in the hereafter with his maker.

He is survived by his wife Cynthia, fourteen children, twenty four grandchildren, five great grandchildren, two brothers (Leon and Sunny), many relatives and friends.

Today we pay our last respects to a father, husband, friend, farmer, and nation builder. He is our hero.

Another of his favourite lines was “when yo’ looking fo Jericho; Jericho na dey”

May he rest in peace.

Thank you.