Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the ill-fated 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), Bernard Coard has paid glowing tribute to the late Lauriston Wilson (JR) who served at one time as his Permanent Secretary and Director-General of Finance.
Coard’s tribute was read at Monday’s funeral service for Wilson that was held at the Grenada Trade Centre by former President of the Senate, Margaret Neckles.
The ex-Number Two man in the revolutionary government referred to Wilson who died two weeks ago at the age of 78 as one of “the finest, most efficient, most dedicated, most knowledgeable, and totally honest civil servant” that he got to know in Grenada.
When the Marxist-oriented New Jewel Movement (NJM) seized power on March 13, 1979 in a coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy government, one of the first acts was to send Wilson home on the grounds that he was too close to the ousted regime.
However, Wilson was brought back within weeks when the PRG could not find anyone in the service to engage with a visiting high-powered team of officials from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He worked closely with Coard for the next four years until the senior government minister once more decided to sent him home on forced leave.
The NEW TODAY reproduces in full the message sent to a son of the deceased by Coard who is now living in Jamaica with his wife, Phyllis as a mark of respect for the late Wilson:
Please accept my profound sympathies on the passing of your father.
Please also convey the same to all members of your family on my behalf and that of my wife.
As I have told all my friends and associates over the years, and have even committed to print, your father was, along with one other civil servant whom I had the privilege and honour to work with, the finest, most efficient, most dedicated, most knowledgeable, and totally honest civil servant whom I have encountered in my work within and outside the Caribbean region.
His integrity, and his patriotism was second to none. Often, he negotiated with international companies and financial institutions on his own; bargaining hard for Grenada’s interests, and winning many of those battles.
His memory was legendary. He didn’t really need to consult the hundreds of thick files in the Ministry of Finance; he knew their contents by heart! This ability of his never ceased to amaze me.
On a personal level, I was never known to be a lazy minister. I was genuinely hard-working. Well, what has that got to do with your father? Simply this: I only needed ONE Secretary to do all the work that I generated; YOUR FATHER NEEDED THREE!!! He was unbeatable, unstoppable when it came to serving his country.
May his memory live on among all Grenadians and may his contribution and EXAMPLE be celebrated through. all future generations.
It is my earnest hope that both the government and the PWU will find ways of preserving for all time his contribution and example.
May Lauriston Wilson JR rest in peace.