A Tribute to Mr. John Conrad Constance by: Dr. A Cecil Cyrus
I WAS INTRODUCED to Mr. Constance in 1967 when I was looking for someone to build my clinic and squash court at Montrose. From that very first meeting, we became friends, and continued so until his death. He built several other important structures for me, including another squash court at Salt Pond in 1978 and the Cecil Cyrus Squash Complex in Paulâs Avenue in 1983.
He was known popularly and affectionately as Conno. When, by chance, I discovered that one of his Christian names was Conrad, I used to call him by that name teasingly. The fact that I chose Conno to do all these constructions is a token of the very high regard in which I held him as a man, and the superb quality of his work, both as a mason in the early years and a contractor later. It is not an exaggeration to state that I never found fault with his work, because, not only did he have one standard, the very best of which he was cabpable, but he understood and respected my wishes and, accordingly, produced his accustomed high quality workmanship.
He was one of the most popular contractors in St. Vincent for several reasons. He was easy to get along with, the quality of his work was excellent, and he was not greedy. Hence, his charges were always fair and affordable. He and I had a standard joke – whenever he told me to buy so many sacks of cement, I used to buy more, for he always under-estimated.
He was always willing to assist me in an emergency, however busy he was and short of workmen. He used to be amused whenever I arranged for help, because I always prefaced my request with the words, âI have an emergency.â After I gave him the details, I could hear the almost inaudible indrawing of breath on the telephone as he tried to work out how he could assist.
He never shirked work, and, since I was always in a hurry and liked to work as much as he did, on several occasions we worked for long, ungodly hours. One Saturday morning, we bgan a job to extend my dining room. We finished it at 5 oâclock the Sunday morning. As I drove him and another man home, we had quite a laugh as we saw the occasional âoff-siderâ sneaking out of a house not his own!
In all the 44 years of our friendship, I never heard Conno swear nor lose his temper. His scholding of his workmen was always gentle and brief, but effective; such was their high regard for him. He never kept malice. Once, we had a momentary fallout while he was building the Squash Complex in Paulâs Avenue, and he quit the job. I allowed him to walk away for about fifty feet, then I hurried to his side, held him by the shoulder, turned him around and walked him back to the job. We had a good laugh, because it was all a pretence. Because of my association with him, I made several friends and acquaintances among his workers from Belair and its environs.
Conno was at all times a gentleman. A gentle, quiet, soft-spoken, humble, unassuming person, he commanded not only the respect but the affection of all those who got close to him. There were no pretentiousness, no intolerance, no impatience. He was a simple person in the sense of being really what he appeared to be, the salt of the earth, someone who was always pleased to be of service to others. In fine, he was a true Christian, for he always helped his fellowmen.
My entire family extends our deepest condolences to Mrs. Constance, their children, grandchildren and all others related to him. We shall miss you, Conno, but you will live forever in the hearts of all of us whose lives you touched. Your children and their progeny will ensure your physical immortality, even as your goodness has secured you a lasting, happy place in heaven. Rest in eternal peace, Dear Friend.