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Vernon Williams remembered


JEFF BROOMES

Vernon Williams remembered

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Once in a lifetime you meet someone whose manifest values and practices make you believe that they will always be around. In my life, such a person was Vernon Allan Williams. He was my friend, my confidant, my mentor and my biggest critic. It is still very traumatic for me to believe that he has passed and will no longer be here to give leadership, advice, guidance and correction when necessary.

We can all at different levels talk about his days at St George Primary School, Combermere, High Wycombe College in England or South West London College. Many of us can talk about his life as a civil servant, an accountant and a Company Secretary at the Telephone Company. 

We can even talk of his involvement in hockey which he helped to develop at two different clubs. We praise his work in cricket where his imprint will forever be seen at Combermere that he brought to the top of West Indian cricket recruitment, or at his beloved Sheffield and Carlton. His work at the BCA where he brought corporate governance into the 21st century is nothing short of legendary.

Williams was also a teacher, choosing to share his immense knowledge and talent with others. He trained many students in accounts, privately for many years and at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic for seven years. He also served on a number of boards, chairing many of them ensuring that our country was also a beneficiary of his obvious skills.

Those are all factual truths, but they do not complete the picture and the story of this outstanding Barbadian citizen. The core of him was seen in the values and principles by which he lived his life. He was bitterly honest, believing strongly that short terms gains should never be sought by compromising on your values. He never saw hurting one with truth as anything else but making that person better.

Williams was unbelievably generous and caring. In almost any social circle in which he functioned, there are incredible stories of his generosity to relieve one person or the other from some challenge or potential embarrassment. It may not be well known, but I am aware of his annual financial donations to individual primary schools and young students in need. He lived by this!

The core of this man whom I value as an icon was his love for family. Every action he took was focused on the security, safety and development of his family, especially his beloved children and spouse, but inclusive of anyone who had a single drop of Williams’ blood. But his family was not limited to biology. He also showed great love for his professional family, his sports family and his social family. I am proud to have been part of his family on many different fronts.

It is well known that every Saturday evening was dedicated to his main social group, The Forum which was primarily hosted at his house. He was our leader and leadership he gave to all of us from all different spheres of life, professionally and economically. His humour, his straight shooting and his firm sense of decency will be greatly missed.

What a man! He was able to strike the necessary balance between strong and character building action with the adequate coating of the soft skills which he did indeed have! He loved, he respected and he encouraged us all including children, friends and children of friends to be as good as they could possibly be! I can still hear him telling my daughter, “Lia, you must do law!” Kudos to him!

On another personal note, he also taught me the importance of sacrifice. He advised that giving up potential friendships and ignoring insincere nice words was sometimes necessary. “Sacrifice, he stated, is a disciplinary commitment necessary for maintaining self-respect, upholding personal integrity and achieving positive, identifiable goals.” I internalised that guidance! 

Vernon Allan Williams, you have been called to greater service, my friend. Go peacefully, knowing that you have made an unquestioned positive mark on this earth! We love you, we thank you and we will miss you.

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