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GONE TOO SOON!
As a nation mourned, shaken to the core by the death of Prime Minister David Thompson, despair and grief gripped those in his stomping ground of St John.
Thompson, 48, represented St John politically since he was age 25, and as news spread of his passing in the wee hours of yesterday morning, almost all the faces from Bath to Colleton to Martins Bay to Gall Hill, carried forlorn and crestfallen looks.
The boys in Colleton shouted, “The boss is gone”; a woman in Bath hailed him as a father and a brother; a group of people cried at a bus stop in Gall Hill; an elderly man in Coach Hill simply said that Thompson would be irreplaceable.
Thompson, this country’s sixth Prime Minister, was a colossus in St John, arguably in the same manner as this country’s first leader, the revered Errol Walton Barrow.
When the SUNDAY SUN team visited the sleepy eastern rural parish just after the crack of dawn, many seemed so crushed by Thompson’s passing, they were speechless.
The glum-faced expressions said it all. Donna Batson of Bath Land couldn’t hold back the tears or her feelings.
“I have lost my father, my friend, my brother. He was everything to us. This hurts.
“When my mother died, he was one of the first people that visited the family. It is so sad. Thompson was a top man,” she said.
The Estwick family of Colleton were very close to the Thompsons, and all members of the household were moved to tears, none more so than 28-year-old Alwyn, Thompson’s barber before he became Prime Minister.
“My father gone. I can’t believe he is gone. A good man is gone.
"This (yesterday) morning is one of the worst days of my life. He was a father figure. I loved this man,” said a sobbing Alwyn. His mother Izola Estwick, fighting back the tears, said Thompson’s daugher Oya was a frequent visitor to her home.
“Only Wednesday night I was talking about him, and I didn’t imagine he would die so soon. David Thompson did a lot for St John and Barbados,” she said.
His housekeeper for the last two decades, Monica Parsons, broke down after comforting family and friends at Thompson’s residence in Mapps, St Philip.
She was at home when Thompson’s wife Mara phoned her just before 4 a.m. to give her the dreaded news.
“Mr Thompson’s wife Mara called me at 3:58 a.m. This is hard. I was with Thompson from the time [daughter] Misha was just nine months old.
“He was a very good man. He never came in the house without saying Monica, good evening. He never left without saying, Monica, I gone.”
Two others who were very close to him were overcome with grief. His long-standing constituency aide Kathlene Padmore was teary-eyed and his driver Kelvin “Dopey” Howell cried himself to sleep.
In Carters, St John, big John Haynes, one of Thompson’s staunchest supporters, took it hard.
“This lick me up. It’s devastating. Although I knew what the situation was, I am still in shock,” he said.
Haynes, a key figure in the St John District Emergency Organisation and the St John Constituency Council, said his connection with Thompson dated back to when the former Prime Minister was working in the chambers of Errol Barrow.
“Mr Barrow was my family lawyer and when he passed on, Mr Thompson took over, and we have been close ever since.
“Some were concerned with elements he had time for, but he saw young people as the future and therefore he needed to work with them. He will be sadly missed.”
Gilbert Hope, a 65-yearold from Bath Land, took it hard. “All we talk, all we do, we can’t bring him back, but we will miss him.”
Long-serving schools worker, Adele Hope, said Thompson and the Democratic Labour Party had done much for her.
“He was a very good man. The Dems bring me from right down to right up. Thompson was for the people.”
According to Lolita (Gail) Bennett, Thompson’s star faded too soon.
“David Thompson was a good leader. I always wanted to see him become Prime Minister. He has gone too soon.”
- This article was first published October 24, 2010.