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EULOGY - BY JEANETTE DUBOIS

Tribute to

GEORGE EDWARD BHADAISE LOUISON

MONDAY 19TH MAY, 2003

 

"Human kind has not woven the web of life.

We are one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.

All things are bound together.

 An things connect."

 

It is hard for me to categorize my relationship with George. In my family we do not refer to each other as relative, we use the word family. That's how we were brought up.  George was not just my first cousin. He was my colleague, my friend, my comrade, I am the godmother of one of his sons, my confidante, my comrade, my advisor. At one time, especially when we were in our early twenties he was my escort, my traveling companion and protector. At different stages in our lives emphases shifted with regard to our relationship but it was always there and always healthy.

Chronologically, I am two years older than George but mentally he was much older than I. His wealth of experience and the pace at which he did things disguised his age. After his death people kept saying to me "I never knew George was that young."

In paying this short tribute to George it is my intention to recall some of the ordinary things he did that touched me and continue to still do so.

George entered the Grenada Teacher's College a few months before his 19th birthday already having taught at the St. John's Anglican School for one year.

During his first year at college, with very little money, which he never had much of, or probably was never able to keep much of, George helped to organize an island hopping trip to Jamaica on board the Federal Maple. The next year he was elected president of the student body. The energy he put into the activities of the student council made me feel that he would not be able to put sufficient effort into his training. However to my amazement, George performed well and was never late with his assignments. I don't think I am being vain when I say that George was just bright. I believe that I am not the only person who would attest to that. In fact this afternoon many persons have attested to this. He was perceptive and a deep thinker. He read widely and deeply, was willing to listen, was open to new ideas and created ideas.

Although not yet 21 when he returned to his school from Teacher's College, it was no secret that George was perceived as a threat to the existing establishment. Being armed with new teaching methods and interesting ideas he assumed that he was free to practise but that was not to be.  Firstly he was withdrawn from teaching social studies and religious education. The irony here is that at that period of his life George was attending mass at this church on a regular basis, was a trained reader of this church and was taking part in organizing activities such as World Day of Prayer. The worst came in 1974 when his class of senior students was taken away from him and he was left with nothing to do but to draw his salary. I cannot recall anything like this happening before, during or after my 30 plus years in the field of education. This did not kill George's spirit. He attended work every day and on time and used his time for reading and writing and helping his colleagues to prepare teaching aids. In fact he became quite proficient in typing and

using the spirit-duplicating machine during that period. Also during that period he was able to be more devoted to the work of the St. John's branch of the Grenada Union of Teachers. After an inquiry it was agreed between the union and the authorities that George be transferred to Grand Roy Government School where he remained until he resigned to take up an appointment with CADEC an arm of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC).

On reflection, I believe that George and I grew closer because of our common interest in education and human rights issues. We discussed and planned lessons together, shared teaching aids and argued profusely about current affairs. He helped to develop and sharpen my interest in matters related to equal rights and justice and against oppression. It was George who first reminded me that "If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem". In other words he did not believe that we should sit on the fence. Being my traveling companion, in 1972 we ventured out together to New York on vacation. As a high risk taker, he borrowed the fare which was under $400 and decided that he would find a job for about four of the six weeks to repay his loan and purchase some presents for his friends, parents and siblings, nine of whom were still in Grenada. This allowed us sufficient time to visit important, historical and pleasurable sites. The

saying that "people will forget what you said and what you did but not forget how you

made them feel" is so true. That unselfish act on the part of George, I will always remember.

From 1979 George's life became very public. Our relationship took a different turn. We argued strongly, differed graciously and fought together in the interest of education. As Minister of Education, he included me in the discussions on the establishment of the Centre For Popular Education, The Community School Day Programme and the National Inservice Teacher Education Programme.

His road to the bar was a difficult one. Not merely because of the rigours of studies but mainly because of his lack of funds. After having lost everything through looting in October 1983, except the clothes on his back, a ring which he had bought in Guyana and some books which were in the family home, with no job and no money George had to start from scratch. In an effort to support himself and his children George even tried his hands at trafficking in fruits and vegetables in Carriacou. He also traded in goods from England.

He tried to convince me that I too should study law. He encouraged me to register with the University of London, to obtain books and to sign up with Wolsley Hall for a correspondence course. He started to study at home from some books donated by Kenrick. He went to England almost penniless but managed to follow through and became a successful attorney, not financially but in his practice and service to humankind. I sometimes felt guilty about encouraging my friends to contact him when they had problems. Some of them he knew others he didn't but he always listened and advised accordingly.

When I finally decided to go to Leeds to read for an M.A. degree George was elated. I stayed with him in London for a few days and he traveled with me to Leeds to help me to settle. He used some of his contacts to help me find accommodation and paid me a visit several months afterwards to see how I was doing. This was how much George cared about people.

To George love means unselfishness and giving. He lived that way and died that way.

We are sad to see you go George but I know that God would not give us anything that we can't handle. In the words of Helen Keller I. wish to remind us that "We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world."  

Rest in Peace George and may perpetual light shine upon you.