The Memorial Service for Sir John Compton

The Memorial Service for Sir John Compton

Published on Tuesday, October 2, 2007

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By Jean H Charles

I have received through my e-mail an invitation for the Memorial Service for the late Prime Minister of St Lucia for Sunday the 28th of September in the afternoon. I was torn between conflicting agendas; I wanted to attend the Atlantic Avenue Fair, the mother of all festivals in Brooklyn, where the whole world is assembled in one avenue for the delight of New Yorkers who enjoy the last Indian summer before the thaw of the freezing days pierces like a needle that you did not see.

Jean H Charles

Yet, I arrived early at the beautiful Church of St Mathieu the seat of the Caribbean Catholics in Brooklyn. St Mathieu has been elegantly renovated, the interior reminds of those French or Italian Basilica built in the Middle Ages by artisans who believed that the temple of God should represent the best that men can create on earth.

The atmosphere in the church was filled with a buzz of joy and excitement. The sons of St Lucia adorned in their black suits and the daughters outfitted with their latest designer black dresses were proud and happy to celebrate a living legend. Indeed the late Sir John Melvin Compton was one of the last breed of leaders who passed through this world and left the lives of his citizens better than he has found them.

A lawyer and an economist by training, he came back from London with the determination to enter politics and change the condition of life of the St Lucians.

He brought St Lucia to political independence from England on February 22, 1979 and initiated immediately the fight for economic independence from the sugar plantation to the banana industry where each farmer could control his own destiny instead of working for peanuts for a sugar baron.

During his three terms in office as Prime Minister he has shaped the destiny of the island, from a sugar plantation to a banana export country into the premiere tourist destination in the Caribbean. St Lucia is hip and hot. Whether for the newlyweds or for those who want the tranquility of the tropics, the Trois Pitons is the pristine place where the people are extremely courteous and the environment close to paradise on earth.

Sir John Compton, was humble, learned intellect, God fearing, and close to his people. The Reverend Monsignor Dr Theophilus Joseph (a son of St Lucia) who officiated the services reminded those present that Sr. John Compton understood the meaning of “passing through this earth and accomplishing by the Grace of God all he can do” to make life easier and better for each one of his people.

He was before time an integrationist. He understood that the economy of scale was working against the insular policies of going alone. A stronger Caribbean is one that goes from Cuba through Guyana without omitting Haiti. The Queen of England recognized his leadership in bringing together the Eastern Caribbean States by knighting him with the Order of the Caribbean Community.

I must confess that I have a special love for and with St Lucia.

I have overhead some twenty years ago, that all the men have left St Lucia for London, New York and Toronto, leaving alone the women; in my puerile fantasy, I have often said: I will go to St Lucia and have all the women for myself. My last visit to St Lucia was even more rewarding, I saw a country without slums, at peace with itself led by a good man, a great “ daddy,” a caring husband, a compassionate father and an excellent administrator.

The new Prime Minister, the Honourable Stephenson King will have a big shoe to fill, the people of St Lucia are expecting the policy of growth with balance, the facilitation of the cooperation of the thousands of St Lucian all over the world ready and willing to make St Lucia a better jewel. Last but not least the continuation of the integration process of all the Caribbean islands.

I have advocated in a previous writing (A roadmap for the integrated coordination of the Caribbean) the creation of “Ti Marché”: the Creole Market that will include St Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti and Louisiana. The Creole culture that circulate in the vein of these people represent an affinity that should facilitate the rapprochement of the exchange of goods and services for the benefit of all concerned.

May this Creole Market be a project initiated by and taken upon by the new government as a testimony to the legacy of Sir John George Melvin Compton, one of the last living legends of our times!

Jean H Charles MSW JD is Executive Director of AIDNOH Inc a public policy institute dedicated to further a kinder and gentler Caribbean zone. He can be reached at



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2 Responses to The Memorial Service for Sir John Compton

  1. PEP says:

    Thanks for sharing. Did you go to the memorial?

  2. R. says:

    I attended the memorial on Sun 30 Sep 2007, it was a very touching tribute to our former Prime Minister, the feelings of unity amongst St. Lucians and their admiration for Sir John Compton was quite palpable, if I may say so. The church was packed to capacity for the almost 5 hour long service and no one left, the majority also attended the reception afterwards where we were able to pay our condolences to Lady Janice Compton.
    All in all it was a nice sendoff, services were also held in Florida, Washington London and Toronto to name a few.

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