Sir Denys an unsung hero of Barbados
MANY OF THOSE people who nurtured Barbados in its early days following political Independence can be considered unsung heroes. One of the defining qualities of those loyal sons and daughters was their selfless dedication to country.
It was not only the political directorate or career public officer who sacrificed to ensure the fledgling nation developed the outstanding reputation it has gained, but an independent judiciary – firm and fair.
Sir Denys Ambrose Williams, the second Chief Justice in a post-Independent Barbados, was one of those people who quietly contributed much to this country. Not only was he an outstanding jurist with a clean public image, but was someone who rendered service to many areas and causes, long after his official retirement.
Born in 1929, Sir Denys excelled academically which culminated in him being awarded the Barbados Scholarship in 1949, going on to study law at Oxford University. Like many of his era who wanted to make a contribution to the nation-building taking place in the Caribbean, he returned to work with the defunct West Indies Federation based in Trinidad.
On his return to Barbados he took up duties as a magistrate before becoming a judge at 37, the youngest in the Commonwealth. He did not let down those who had the faith to elevate him to both the High Court and subsequently to the office of Chief Justice. Fellow judges and attorneys as well as others who worked with him in the judicial system all give testimony to his fine qualities.
He was not a judge at whom anyone could point an accusing finger of being tardy in his decisions, of handing down judgments which could be easily overturned, or even being an uncaring judge. Neither his independence of mind nor his assertiveness was translated into aloofness.
For his invaluable service to this nation, Sir Denys was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1986 and he had the privilege to act as this country’s governor general. He had no political affiliation, yet both of this island’s major political parties have lauded his contribution.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said: “Sir Denys served Barbados and the Caribbean with great distinction,” noting that he lived “an exemplary life and gave willing and unselfish service, at all times, to the nation that he loved”.
Mr Dale Marshall, a former Attorney General and now shadow spokesman on legal matters, described the late chief justice as “a true nation builder, helping to instill confidence in the application of the law to citizens, which has been a key component of the Barbadian brand of stability in a newly independent country”.
Yet, for someone who has contributed so much and left a legacy, Sir Denys, who will be laid to rest today, has not been granted an official funeral. What a pity!
May his soul rest in peace.