Tribute to the Late Sir John George Melvin Compton, KCMG, OCC by Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, ON, PC, QC Former Prime Minister of Jamaica


It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I convey to the Government and people of Saint Lucia my deep personal sympathy on the passing of Sir John George Melvin Compton, KDMG, OCC. In his passing, St. Lucia and indeed the Caribbean, has lost one of its finest sons. I feel the special loss of a sincere colleague and close friend.
I had the good fortune to work with and learn from Sir John in a variety of circumstances beginning in the days of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). I have seen him at work in the various Councils in the Region, in our bilateral and multilateral negotiations with other world leaders and in the multilateral system, St. Lucia and indeed the Caribbean, were well served by Sir John.
He was a visionary and builder who was prepared to put and hold the stone in position until it had cemented. He contributed enormously to the political, social and economic development in St. Lucia over several decades. He was also integral to the growth and cohesion in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Caribbean Community he was instrumental in fashioning.
Sir John was a passionate nationalist, sub-regionalist and regionalist. He had no difficulty in reconciling the three levels of governance and cooperation which he saw as mutually re-enforcing and fulfilling.
Sir John was never passive. He lent his tremendous experience, expertise, energy and astute legal mind to every area of regional and sub-regional endeavour. I remember him well for his contribution to the negotiation and resolution of difficulties at every level of the regional integration process from CARIFTA to CARICOM and to the CSME; in external trade negotiations, in particular the negotiations to protect our banana market; in the effort at development and rationalization of a regional air transportation system.
He spearheaded the development of our relations with the multilateral financial institutions; in the creation, strengthening and/or operation of regional institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). He strongly supported the CXC and the University of the West Indies. He spared no effort in the search to develop a regional approach to tourism. Sir John was often called to shoulder leadership for the Region in these areas.
He was easily the longest serving Co-Chairman of the Caribbean Group for Co-operation in Economic Development (CGCED) and Chairman of the Caribbean Development Bank. He discharged these functions quietly and effectively, often at great personal sacrifice but without a murmur.
Sir John was always available to his colleagues, in particular to the younger leaders. He was respectful, dignified, quiet and persuasive with an infectious sense of humour.
Sir John has been recognized as a Caribbean Man and integrationist with the conferral of the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC). The present generation of leaders can however best honour his memory and legacy by a resolute effort to make the accommodations and speed the process of Caribbean integration for which he dedicated his life.
Sir John’s passing leaves a void, a virtual chasm, in St. Lucia and the Caribbean. He has left an indelible mark with large and bright footprints for those who are now challenged to pursue the path ahead.

JIS Social