Grenadians mourn the passing of Jimmy Emmanuel

By Lincoln DePradine

Jimmy Emmanuel

Grenadian Jimmy Emmanuel’s many friends included the late Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and Sir Vaughan Lewis, the former Prime Minister of St Lucia, where Emmanuel lived and worked for many years.

Sir Vaughan is also a former director general of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose commission is based in St Lucia. Emmanuel served at the commission as director of external affairs and special advisor to the director general, playing a critical role in the implementation of the OECS Economic Union.

The OECS, in a statement of condolence on the death in Toronto of Emmanuel, praised him for his professional contribution to the region.

“We have lost an exceptional professional whose contribution to the development of the OECS region is invaluable,’’ OECS officials said.

A service for Emmanuel, 80, was held last Saturday at St Barnabas Catholic Church in Scarborough. Among his surviving relatives are his wife Barbara, three children, his grandchildren and several nephews and nieces.

His public service career included holding positions as a permanent secretary in the Grenada ministry of foreign affairs and as a Grenada diplomat in Canada.

Ambassador Derrick James, Grenada’s consul general in Toronto, noted that the Emmanuel family has provided distinguished service to their country and the region.

Trevor Emmanuel, a deceased brother, was a Catholic priest, who also was a high school teacher and well-known steelpan music arranger. The late Dr Patrick Emmanuel – another brother – was a scholar and University of the West Indies professor, who served as minister responsible for civil aviation in the Interim Administration that was established after the 1983 US-led invasion of Grenada.

“We, as Grenadians, must be thankful for the family giving themselves to the service of mankind,’’ James said in an interview Saturday, following the service for Emmanuel.

James said Jimmy Emmanuel “served well’’, and extended sympathy to his family on behalf of the government and people of Grenada.

“As we celebrate his life and mourn the sadness of his passing, I think we must take solace in the fact that he served the country and his community well,’’ James said. “Sometimes, we take for granted the service of our people who work outside of Grenada; but it involves a tremendous amount of sacrifice a lot of times.’’

St Lucian Dr Didacus Jules, the current OECS director general, remembers Emmanuel when they both worked as senior public servants in Grenada during Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government.

Emmanuel was “an extraordinary spirit’’ and a “man of deep and quiet courage’’, said Jules, a former Grenada chief education officer.

“The academic rigour of his professional formation ensured that Jimmy conducted the business of foreign affairs in Revolutionary Grenada with a sophistication that earned him the respect of all with whom he engaged, regardless of their ideological complexion,’’ Jules said in a written “personal tribute’’ to Emmanuel.

“The two things that Jimmy Emmanuel never compromised were his deep Grenadian national pride and his equally fervent commitment to the Caribbean. I never saw Jimmy angry except if either of these identities were challenged or disrespected.’’

Che Emmanuel, who referred to his father as “comrade’’ in a funeral tribute on Saturday, described him as a “unique individual’’, who didn’t want a eulogy delivered at his service.

“He did not want a recollection of his life,’’ Emmanuel said. “The comrade had his own way of doing things.’’

Emmanuel said his father was unapologetic and relentless in his “promotion of the life of Jesus’’; someone, as well, who “didn’t really care for many of physical things of this life’’ and who died Christmas Day.

“Being a spiritual person, in all senses of the word, I really do feel that if he was to choose the day, as a Catholic, there is probably no better day to be called home,’’ said Emmanuel, adding that his father’s communication with others was “either about the positive impact of Caribbean people, in music and society, or spiritual messages’’.

In the last couple months before his passing, Emmanuel recalled his father visiting St Lucia, where he was able to see “some really close comrades’’ including Sir Vaughan.

His father, at the time of death, “was very much at peace with himself, spiritually and emotionally,’’ said Emmanuel.

“I’ve never seen him as peaceful as he was in those last few days of his life,’’ he said. “Comrade, I miss you; until we meet again. I love you.’’