How will Guyanese remember the first decade of the 21st Century? Several citizens who played prominent roles in the second half of the 20th Century and contributed significantly to the country’s economic, educational, cultural, commercial and political development, are dead. Many of them belonged to that gifted generation born in the 1920s. Guyana Review respectfully remembers their lives and work.
Dr Stanley Reginald Richard Allsopp, CHB, 23rd January 1923 – 3rd June 2009, Honorary Professor of Caribbean Lexicography at the University of the West Indies, will be remembered for his magnum opus – the Dictionary of Caribbean English – possibly, “the most important book ever to come out of the Anglophone Caribbean.”Wilton Anderson Angoy, AA, 12th January 1907 – 8th January 2004, as District Commissioner during the late colonial period, was responsible for organizing the Bartica Regatta in the Mazaruni District and the Rupununi Rodeo in the Rupununi District and became Guyana’s first Honorary Consul to Barbados.
Brindley Horatio Benn, CCH CCH, 24th January 1923 – 11th December 2009, a former High Commissioner to Canada, Chairman of the People’s Progressive Party, Deputy Premier and Minister of the Government, was responsible for introducing the slogan – One People, One Nation, One Destiny – that was eventually adopted as the national motto.
Sir Harold Brodie Smith Bollers, Kt Bach, OR, CCH, 5th February 1915 – 26th December 2006 was a former magistrate, Justice of Appeal, Chief Justice, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and President of the Guyana Red Cross Society.
Olga Irene Bone, née Lowe, 17th September 1920 – 27th July 2009, a former Education Officer and Assistant Registrar of the University of Guyana, devoted her entire adult life to education and became co-founder of Education Renewal – initially a small non-governmental organization that worked for the improvement of children’s education – which was transformed into the Guyana Book Foundation.
Marjorie Letitia Broodhagen, AA, 12th December 1912 – 23rd May 2000, was one of Guyana’s most outstanding pioneer women artists who was educated in Italy, Mexico, Spain, the UK and USA and taught art at St Joseph’s, St Stanislaus and Bishops’ High Schools. She began exhibiting her own work in the 1930s and arranging exhibitions of women’s art from 1967.
Gershom Onesimus Browne, 7th August 1898 – 6th December 2000 saw active service in the Middle East and was Guyana’s last known surviving veteran of the First World War as a member of the British West Indies Regiment. He also wrote a book – The History of Bagotville – about his home village of which he became Village Overseer.
Viola Victorine Burnham née Harper, OR, 26th November 1930 – 10th October 2003, was Chairperson of the Women’s Revolutionary Socialist Movement and the Caribbean Women’s Association and became Vice-President and Deputy Prime Minister after the death of her husband President Forbes Burnham.
Sir John Patrick Gregorio Carter, Kt Bach CCH OR SC, 27th January 1919 – 23rd February 2005, an attorney-at-law, politician and diplomat, entered politics in 1947 as a member of the British Guiana Labour Party, was elected to the Legislative Council, and founded the United Democratic Party which was merged into the People’s National Congress. He entered the foreign service in 1966.
Ranji Chandisingh, 5th January 1930 – 15th June 2009 was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1961 and became Minister of Labour, Health and Housing in the PPP administration but joined the PNC administration in 1976 and was appointed Minister of Education, Vice-President and , later, Ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Dr Walter Augustus Chin, CCH, 12th December 1932 – 4th July 2004, an eminent pediatrician and physician and an accomplished administrator, was Chief Medical Officer and President of the Guyana Cancer Society and became the best-known name in medicine and public health in the country.
Arthur Chung, OE 10th January 1918 – 23rd June 2008 was elected by the National Assembly to be the first president of the republic in 1970 thereby making world history as the first ethnic Chinese (Hakka) president of a non-Asian state and also made regional history by becoming president of the first republic in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Stephanie Helena Correia née Campbell, MS, 28th April 1930 – 17th July 2000 elevated pottery from the level of common household utensils to that of fine art through her skilful adoption of clay as a medium and her imaginative use of Amerindian petroglyphs and basketry designs.
Dr Dennis Roy Craig, 1929 -29th February 2004, the son of a carpenter, earned his professorship at the University of the West Indies and was appointed the first Director of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development in the Ministry of Education. He then became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana in 1991 -1995 rehabilitating the institution after a decade of decline.
David Francis de Caires, 31st December 1937 – 1st November 2008, was the executive director of Guyana Publications Inc., editor-in-chief of Stabroek News in 1986 and, although qualified as an attorney-at-law, gave up his legal practice to become one of the most outstanding newspaper editors of the 20th century in this country and a celebrated campaigner for press freedom.
Lynette de Weever Dolphin, OR CCH AA MBE, 7th February 1916 – 8th February 2000, was distinguished as much as a music teacher as a cultural organizer who made a remarkable contribution to the establishment of the British Guiana Music Teachers’ Association and to the administration of national music festivals, Guyana’s Independence celebrations and the Caribbean Festival of the Arts.
Dr Tyrone Robert Ferguson, 2nd April 1949 – 22nd Augus 2004t, a former Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of International Relations, UWI and wrote two outstanding books – Structural Adjustment and Good Governance: The Case of Guyana and, To Survive Sensibly or to Court Heroic Death: Management of Guyana’s Political Economy, 1965-1985.
Dr Victor Leonard Consort Forsythe, 20th February 1925 – 15th November 2001, will be remembered best for his years of service in the Bureau of Public Information and Government Information Service and as a lecturer at the University of Guyana where he launched the Diploma and Degree in Public Communications courses.
Dr Desrey Clementine Fox née Caesar, 2nd January 1956 – 11th December 2009, was Minister in the Ministry of Education, Curator of the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and Head of the University of Guyana’s Amerindian Research Unit who, as an Akawaio native-speaker, measurably enriched public knowledge of indigenous life in this country.
Charles John Ethelwood Fung-A-Fatt, CCH, 24th June 1920 – 29th December 2001, an attorney-at-law, built a strong reputation in New Amsterdam, Berbice, becoming a Town Councillor and Mayor there and later served as a Judge of the High Court, Justice of Appeal and Police Complaints Authority.
Dr Cedric Hilburn Grant, CCH 23rd April 1936 – 15th June 2005, CCH, an academic and diplomat, served as High Commissioner to Zambia and the United Kingdom and Ambassador to the United States and was later appointed Howard Baker Professor in International Affairs at the George Washington University, Washington, DC, then he moved to Clark Atlanta University, Georgia.
Ayube Ahamad Khan, known as Ayube Hamid, MS AA 20th September 1926- 21st January 2009, was this country’s best known, longest-serving and most versatile broadcaster who, as the host of Indian Memory Album, introduced his programme with the signature Sahani Raat, both the programme and melody defining his broadcasting career at the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation.
Roy Aubrey Kelvin Heath, 13th August 1926 – 14th May 2008, an émigré writer who lived in England since 1951 and read Modern Languages at London University, pursued a career as a novelist and a teacher but never lost touch with his homeland and was noted most for The Georgetown Trilogy consisting of From the Heat of the Day, One Generation, and Genetha.
Hugh Desmond Hoyte, SC, 19th March 1929 – 22nd December 2002, who became President on 6th August 1985 on the sudden death in office of Forbes Burnham, skillfully managed the rehabilitation of the economy through his succeeding seven-year tenure, choosing Guyana’s Economic Recovery: Leadership, Will-Power and Vision as the title of his book which described those eventful years.
Winifred Margaret Hunter née Wishart, MS, 5th August 1915 – 26th September 2007 contributed inestimably to education through her private school – St Margaret’s School – which was influenced by the Froebel and Montessori methods and her own firm belief that early education should bring forth the best in the young.
Dr Dennis Horace Irvine, CCH CD 15th January 1926 – 26th November, a Jamaican whose visionary leadership and management transformed university life in every possible way, was the most successful and respected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana.
Janet Rosalie Jagan, née Rosenberg, OE, 20th October 1920 – 28th March 2009, a former President who also held official positions as Vice-president and Prime Minister, Minister, Senator, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly and member of the National Assembly, was the most prominent woman in this country during the last century.
Vedmattie Laxhmie Kalicharran, 5th June 1948 – 26th January 2002, was an innovative person whose passionate interest in Indian-Guyanese culture found full expression in her production of Lala Rukh – a unique concert to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of Indian immigration – and in the national Chutney singing competition and the Caribbean Massala radio programme.
Gavin Bonston Kennard, CCH CBE 8th July 1920 – 12th February 2007, former Director of Agriculture, Minister of Agriculture and High Commissioner to Canada, was a multi-talented manager who was a director of several corporations and was selected to lead the Government of Guyana’s negotiating team for the acquisition of the assets of Booker Bros, Mc Connell & Co., in 1976.
Akbar Khan, CCH 10th June 1914 – 19th December 2001, will be remembered as one of Guyana’s most colourful judges. He was appointed a magistrate and in April 1961, became a Puisne Judge and acted as Chief Justice and as Justice of Appeal on several occasions before his retirement in June 1976.
Dr Kenneth Fitzgerald Stanislaus King, 22nd August 1929 – 30th July 2008, a former Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Minister of Economic Development, was the chief architect of the two most ambitious economic development plans in post-independence Guyana – the Second Development Plan 1972-1976 and the National Development Strategy.
Joseph Rudolph Spencer Luck, 22nd March 1930 – 2nd September 2001, an attorney-at-law, teacher and politician, was a founding member, elected member of the General Council and Vice-Chairman of the original People’s Progressive Party but became disillusioned and was appointed a Special Assistant to Prime Minister Burnham of the People’s National Congress.
Dr Cyril Leslie Mootoo, CCH, 1st December 1924 – 15th February 2000, Senior Government Bacteriologist and Pathologist, came to international attention when challenged with undertaking the post-mortem examination of over half of the 913 US citizens who died in the Jonestown Atrocity in 1978, an event that made headlines and dominated the airwaves around the Western World.
Fr Andrew Morrison, SJ, AA, 5th June 1919 – 26th January 2004, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest and former editor of the Catholic Standard who transformed the newspaper from a purely parochial periodical into a political tract that was opposed to the administration of the day and expressed his opinions in his book, Justice: The struggle for Democracy in Guyana, (1952-1992).
Dr Balbir Ball Greene Nehaul, OBE, 6th September 1912 – 16th October 2003, who was born in Friendship Village and became the first person to win the ‘Buxton Scholarship’ and was also the first Guyanese to be appointed Government Bacteriologist and Pathol-ogist, contributed measurably to making the Central Medical Laboratory a respected institution in Biochemistry, Histopath-ology, Microbiology and Morbid Pathology.
William Rutherford Alexander Pilgrim, CCH, 27th August 1920 – 17th April 2006, a veteran of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War when he interrupted his studies at the Royal College of Music to be trained as a pilot and navigator and became this country’s most prolific and successful musical composer and a former Director of Music.
Joseph Henry Pollydore, OR, CCH, AA, OBE, 8th November 1908 – 26th February 2003 was an active follower of the legendary Hubert Critchlow and became General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress using quiet diplomacy instead of confrontation with the Government to secure benefits for workers.
Newton Louis Fitzherbert Profitt, AA, 9th June 1916 – 8th April 2006, as one of the founding fathers of the Adult Education Association not only preserved its independent status but also made it one of the country’s best known and most useful non-governmental organisations that served as a down-to-earth school for working-class adults.
Dr Joshua Reuben Ramsammy, CCH, 5th April 1928- 11th February 2009, a biologist, science teacher, public servant, political activist and university lecturer, became a member of the Ratoon Group, the Working People’s Alliance and other political organisations and was a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Guyana.
Dr Ptolemy Alexander Reid, OE, 8th May 1918 – 2nd September 2003, served in a series of positions as Deputy Premier, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for the portfolios of Home Affairs, Trade, Finance, Agriculture and National Development and, when Prime Minister Burnham became the country’s first executive President, was appointed Prime Minister in his place.
Dr Julius Kenrick Makepeace Richmond, 7th July 1919 – 20th September 2005, helped to establish the Electoral Assistance Bureau to monitor the electoral process, leaving a lasting legacy by re-establishing the democratic principle of free and fair elections and setting the standard by which future elections in this country should be conducted.
Ivor Byron Robinson, AA, MS, ED, 13th March 1908 – 9th April 2001, a veteran of the British Guiana Militia and South Caribbean Force, seeing active service as a company second-in-command in Italy during the Second World War. He became Secretary General of the Guyana Red Cross Society and worked with International Labour Organisation experts to establish the National Insurance Scheme, becoming its first General Manager.
Lloyd Aloysius Searwar, AA, 28thJuly 1925 – 2nd April 2006, was a valued counsellor to premiers, presidents and other powerful men, seeing himself as a technician whose job it was to seek solutions to problems. He served in several international organisations including the Caribbean Community Secretariat as Foreign Affairs Adviser and was Director of the Foreign Service Institute.
Dr Balwant Singh, 10th June 1924 – 1st March 2002, was a former Government Bacteriologist and Pathologist who served as President of the British Guiana Civil Service Association in 1963-64 during the longest strike by public servants in this country’s history. He was also General Secretary of the British Guiana Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and the Gandhi Youth Organisation.
Dr Paul Gagrag Singh, 12th March 1932 – 16th June 2002, was an academic whose strong views and deep knowledge of contemporary political issues were clearly expressed in two small books – Socialism in a Plural Society: The Guyana Experience and Local Democracy in the Commonwealth Caribbean: A Study of Adaptation and Growth.
Alice Mathilda Jane Thomas, née Miller, 12th March 1943 – 26th February 2006, a suave and stylish business woman, was associated with the struggles to break down the barriers of racist and sexist discrimination by her involvement in the New World Associates, Movement Against Oppression, Working People’s Alliance, Red Thread Women’s Organisation and Women Against Violence Everywhere.
Dr Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima, 26th January 1935 – 25th May 2009, was a historian, linguist and anthropologist who, as editor of the Journal of African Civilizations and author of the 1976 book They Came Before Columbus, achieved widespread fame for his claims of prehistoric African influences in Central and South America although it was criticized by academic specialists.
Joseph Rudolph Vieira, AA, 28th July 1920 – 6th October 2005, was a successful sugar planter and businessman who held directorships of the Guyana Sugar Corporation, British Guiana Sugar Producers Association and several other private plantations, Banks-DIH and Citizens Bank Inc. He was Commissioner of the East Demerara Water Conservancy Board and Chairman of the Guyana Airways Corporation.
Dr George Lloyd Walcott, CCH, 20th December 1928 – 20th March 2001 was the first Guyanese-born Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana who had joined the staff of the University of Guyana in 1968 becoming Head of the Department of Chemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and whose lot it was to pilot that institution through its worst days of privation between 1983 and 1991.