Grenada mourns the death of its longest serving Governor General, Sir Paul Scoon who passed away on Monday at his home in a place called Africa in St Paul’s, St George’s.
Sir Paul’s health has been failing for sometime and his death was not unexpected.
He became the island’s second Governor General on October 4, 1978 under the then labour party government of former Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy and served until 1992 when he made way for Sir Reginald Palmer.
Sir Paul led the country through its most tumultuous times, and will be most remembered for his leadership after the U.S-led military intervention of October 25, 1983 that brought an end to Grenada’s flirtation with leftwing revolution.
When Gairy was toppled by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) of attorney-at-law, Maurice Bishop on March 13, 1979, the role of Governor-General became almost non-existent under the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
Four-and-a-half years later, Grenadians had to look towards Sir Paul when bitter internal infighting within the NJM for control of leadership resulted in the execution of Bishop and several Cabinet ministers.
The Governor-General played a pivotal role in facilitating the military action by the United States and a token of Caribbean troops to put down the Bishop Killers and to restore constitutional rule of law in Grenada.
He quickly formed an Interim Administration, headed by Sir Nicholas Brathwaite to run the island until December 4, 1984 when general elections were held and won decisively by the New National Party (NNP) headed by veteran politician, Herbert Blaize.
Born July 4, 1935, Sir Paul Scoon received his early education at St. John’s Anglican School, and then at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School. Upon graduating, Sir Paul Scoon studied as an external student of London University and received his Bachelor of Arts degree.
He attended the Institute of Education at Leeds University, and the University of Toronto where he obtained his Master of Education degree.
Sir Paul Scoon taught at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School where he was also the Master-in-Charge of the School’s 52 boarders.
He served as Chief Education Officer, and as Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office before attaining the post of Secretary of the Cabinet in the Grenada Civil Service.
In 1973, Sir Paul Scoon was seconded to the post of Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation in London. He left this position in 1978 to become the second Governor General of Grenada and was sworn in on October 4th of the same year.
Sir Paul Scoon has been very active in community affairs and served on the Management Council of the Civil Service Association, the Grenada Library Committee, the Board of Governors of Grenada Teachers’ College, the Governing Body of the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School, the Prisons Visiting Committee, and the Grenada Board of Education.
He was co-founder and president of the Secondary School Teachers’ Association (The Association of Masters and Mistresses). He was also a member of the Board of Governors of the Centre for International Briefing at Farnham Castel in Great Britain.
Sir Paul Scoon was married on June 27, 1970 to Esmai McNeilly (nee Lumsden), now deceased. He has three stepchildren.
Sir Paul Scoon’s appointment as Governor General was in recognition of a distinguished career both as a civil servant and a leading developer of the educational system in his homeland.
No one could have foreseen that by the time Sir Paul Scoon resigned, he would have worked alongside six Heads of Government and established an Interim Government in a lead up to elections.
No one could have envisioned that this flourishing democracy would endure a coup d’état; rule by Revolutionary Military Council; the death in office of a serving Prime Minister; the execution of another Prime Minister and 17 of his political supporters; and an intervention at the height of the Cold War in the United States under President Ronald Reagan into Grenada’s affairs, which brought the region to its most dangerous confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Rotary Foundation of Rotary International named Sir Paul a Paul Harris Fellow in 1984, and he was honoured by the Queen on three occasions.
In 1970, he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), in 1979 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) and in 1985 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).
The journey of Sir Paul Scoon, was published in a book entitled “Survival for Service” that provides a personal account of his experiences as Governor General.
His death follows closely on the heels of Alimenta Bishop, the mother of the slain ex-Prime Minister Maurice Bishop who died two weeks ago and was buried last Friday.
Sir Paul will receive a State funeral at a date to be announced.