FEBRUARY 19th, 2005

FEB 19

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Grenada's Prime Minister pays tribute to Ben Jones

It is with a great sense of regret that the Government has learnt this morning of the passing of a former Prime Minister of Grenada, the Honourable Ben Jones.

It is well known that Ben Jones, better known as "Uncle Ben", has provided distinguished service to his Country that spanned decades. It is well known that his service was selfless and in his quiet disposition and articulate manner he has provided quite distinguished service to the Country regionally and internally. Ben also, as is well known, provided service to the agricultural sector. He was a farmer himself and he was someone who led the Ministry of Agriculture through very difficult times. I find it difficult to remember anyone who was more articulate in the delivery of a presentation than Uncle Ben.

I recall one speech in particular that he gave immediately after we had the split of the New National Party, when some members left us. It was the most memorable speech that I had heard myself, which was delivered and repeated seven or eight times on national radio and television. That speech I think will always be remembered as one of Ben's best. It certainly captured the articulation of Uncle Ben.

While we have had our own political differences, Ben always recognised that people had a right to their own individual political position and he never behaved with a sense of bitterness. Where ever we met before and after our differences, he always called me his "little brother" and I certainly recognised this and appreciated this. I remember the last time we visited he was very thankful for my visit and expressed hope that the Government continues to serve the Country in the best possible way.

It is in this sprit that I want to wish his family, his children and close friends the best and to say that we will do whatever we can as Government to give him the best send off as possible. I therefore, once again, want to say that we deeply regret the passing of Uncle Ben. We wish his family and friends the very best. We pray for his eternal soul."

Former Ambassador Stanislaus
Another good and decent man passeth!

Death is both a physical experience and a spiritual reality. Thus as we mourn the passing of former Prime Minister of the tri-island State of Grenada, Hon. Ben Joseph Jones, we celebrate the life of a good and decent man of unparalleled kindness and dignity, called by his maker to live with him in perpetuity, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering.

Ben Jones combined student, scholar, lawyer, politician and statesman in a most delightful way. A product of the Grenada primary school system, Uncle Ben was in many ways a self made man, who through hard work and study was able to qualify as a lawyer with high professional, ethics, combined with a keen legal and judicial mind.

While working in the oil refineries in Aruba in the forties, Jones met and befriended H.A. Blaize who returned home, entered politics, and the rest is history with respect to Blaize"s political achievements.

Their friendship remained strong, so that when Jones returned to Grenada he was persuaded by Blaize to join the Grenada National Party, (GNP) founded by John Watts, now Sir John, who earlier had persuaded Blaize to join his party. Here too the rest is history.

I first had the pleasure of interacting with Uncle Ben during the Statehood celebrations in 1967, when Grenada and the other members of what was then the Windward and Leeward Islands assumed a new political and constitutional arrangement known as States in Association with Great Britain. This was after the dissolution of the Federation of the West Indies in 1962, and after the larger islands Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados had gained their independence.

Blaize as Premier of Grenada in 1967 designated Jones to coordinate Grenada"s foreign policy with that of the United Kingdom in preparation for Grenada"s eventual independence. Thus Ben Jones always a quick learner acquired an extensive body of knowledge and diplomatic skills which stood him in good stead when later he became the foreign minister of Grenada.

He was my boss at the United Nations 1985 - 1990 which included three months when he was Prime Minister of Grenada following the death of Prime Minister Blaize. He was indeed a good and decent man, always kind, considerate and thoughtful, with ne'er a speck of superiority.

Whether speaking in his constituency in North West St. Andrew"s or as a member of parliament, or at the United Nations as Minister of Foreign Affairs, or at the bar or on the bench, Ben Jones spoke with simple sincere, substantive and elegant eloquence.

And while I remember and honor him for all of the above outstanding qualities, I like to remember him best as a good and decent man, gentle and kind, affable and approachable, a mild mannered man of humility, honesty and deep spirituality. His exemplary life of service whether professional, political or humanitarian is in keeping with what the great French philosopher and essayist Camus wrote many centuries ago  I shall tell you a great secret. Do not wait for the last judgment for it happens every day."

Finally as Ben journeys home to the spiritual realm, the poignant words of Tennyson"s masterpiece "Crossing the Bar" comes to mind - Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me. And may there be no moaning of the bar when I set out to sea. Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark, and may there be no sadness of farewell when I embark. For though from out our bourne of time and place the flood may bear me far; I hope to see my pilot face to face when I have crossed the bar.

Sail into eternity good and faithful servant and requiescat in pace (Rest in peace)

Lamuel A. Stanislaus Brooklyn, NY

P.S. To his immediate and extended family, especially his loving and caring daughter Pearl, we extend deep
and heartfelt sympathy.

A tribute by niece Veronica "Julie" Smith

75 year-old Veronica Smith, of River Road Housing Scheme, a well- known tourist vendor has expressed her grief over the passing of her uncle, Ben Jones, former Prime Minister of Grenada, who passed away on Thursday night at his home in Moyah, St. Andrew.

"Uncle Ben was a nice man - as a lawyer, a magistrate, a prime minister. A very honest man!" Ms. Smith wept. "Uncle Ben always thought about us, when we were in any difficulty," she added as tears bathed her grief-stricken face.

She spoke of a grandson who had died in Venezuela some years ago. The well-loved lawyer turned politician, with no hesitation, helped with the flight, etc. Ms. Smith remembered another occasion when a cheque was given to her by Ben Jones, one day when he was prime minister.

"I went to the bank where the teller refused to cash it for me. She thought I looked poor and ordinary. The bank had to call Uncle Ben at the Prime Minister's Office at the Botanical Gardens to get the go- ahead to pay. He told them to pay me the money right away, that I am his niece." As a tribute to her uncle Ms. Smith gives this verse:

Lives of great men
All remind us
And make our lives sublime
And departed leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
Again in tears, Ms. Smith stated, Uncle Ben was a great uncle, a charitable person- my right hand is gone. Uncle Ben was our life- saver.

Bereaved families include the Gellineau"s, the Smith"s, the Jones. Ben Jones had two daughters - a nurse and a lawyer, both of whom reside abroad.

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