Eulogy, Features

Thomas Reynold Walcott

A Tribute by Sir Calixte George KCSL, CMG, SLMH (Gold)

Thomas Reynold Walcott
Thomas Reynold Walcott

THOMAS R. Walcott was a typical Morne Dudon lad who received his primary school education at the Castries Methodist School under the tutelage of Alix Walcott and Oscar A. Walker. He won a scholarship to attend the only secondary school at the time, St. Mary’s College. At the College, he secured an integrated secondary education which included both classical and scientific orientations. He was comfortable in both areas but was recognized for his brilliant mathematical mind. As the dictum ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ was always actualized by Samarians, he was an active participant in extra-curricular activities and although he was a fast off-break bowler at cricket, he preferred football.

Upon graduation from St. Mary’s with his Cambridge Senior School Certificate, he worked as a Technical Assistant at the Public Works Department before proceeding to Canada to further his education. In Canada, he entered the University of Toronto and studied Civil Engineering. He was successful in his studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Engineering. He gained some field engineering experience with structural engineering firms in Canada before returning home to assist his father, N.B. Walcott, in his building construction company.

Tom soon opened his own private engineering firm which attracted several local clients. By dint of hard work, dedication and a thorough, meticulous and analytical approach, he was able to contribute significantly to the infrastructural development of the country. Together with Pat Brown, and his schoolmate Gregory George, Tom Walcott was part of the triad of the best structural engineers that Saint Lucia had produced. Tom was particularly competent in the design of floating foundations, which were considered essential for construction on the low-lying Castries flood plain. His structural designs and construction management skills were recognized by a large and varied range of clients that included business and commercial houses, banks, cooperative societies, religious entities, engineering and building construction companies, contractors, industrial companies and individual homeowners. The buildings, roads, bridges, retaining walls and factories built by him are to be found throughout the length and breadth of Saint Lucia.

Tom’s social consciousness led him to become a member of the Saint Lucia Forum. He participated actively in the programme of the Forum which was aimed primarily at the social and political education of the ordinary man instilling in them the importance of the value of self-discipline, self-worth, self-confidence, self-reliance, self-assurance as prerequisites for developing an independent nation.

The Forum later morphed into the Saint Lucia Labour Action Movement of which Tom was a co-founder along with the political activists and aspirants George Odlum and Peter Josie. The triad later joined the Saint Lucia Labour Party in the seventies.

As a staunch member of the Labour Party, he provided advice, comfort, counsel and hope to the Party during its long sojourn in Opposition. Without his die-hard support, the Party would not have been able to survive the turbulent political ‘dark days’ as exemplified by his bravery in contesting the Babonneau seat which was then held by the indomitable Allan Bousquet. Tom served the Labour Party with dedication, love and inspirational energy and with distinction as its Chairman for decades. He was recently given a Lifetime Service Award in honour of his lifetime of dedication, devoted service, unwavering support to and membership of the Party.

Tom Walcott’s humanity knew no bounds. He was a man of the ordinary, humble, disadvantaged folk for whom he directed his energies towards their upliftment. This was quietly demonstrated by his financial and moral support to striking workers in the Cul-de-Sac and Roseau Valleys in the early 1970’s. He was a genuine philanthropist dedicated to the cause of the underdog by his contribution to their education. He did so directly by helping individuals but also through his financial support of the institutions which would pursue the same, including the Crusader Publishing Company and the provision of spacious accommodation for the official Headquarters of the Saint Lucia Labour Party at his Walcott Building on Upper Jeremie Street. His contributions to charitable institutions and numerous sporting, social, cultural and educational organisations as well as individuals in need is well known.

At the national political level, he served as a Senator in the Upper Chamber of the Parliament, where his contributions were always directed towards the upliftment of ordinary folk. His fierce loyalty to the Party and his native country, Saint Lucia, was a dominant feature of his personality. Her Majesty the Queen inducted him as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his distinguished contribution to National Development.

Thomas Walcott was a family man who exuded love, grace, kindness, comfort, warmth and devotion to his wife and children. He ensured that they were extremely well cared for and enjoyed a stable family life. Priority was always given to the education of his children, and he was at pains to see that they all received the best education available that was in consonance with their individual abilities, likes and capabilities. He was also always kind, generous and passionate to the large Walcott family and expressed his brotherly and sisterly love in a variety of ways. He was considered the hub of the family and was often sought after for advice which he provided with pleasure.

Besides Engineering, he was au courant in a wide range of subjects including History, Philosophy, Religion, World Affairs and of course local, regional and international Politics and Economics. Although he was somewhat private, introverted and shied away from social events, he had a surprisingly large number of friends and acquaintances. He was always honest, straight-talking, amicable, kind and loyal in his dealings with his friends. However, his presentations in arguments were so penetrative and persistent that it was always difficult to win him over as he was strong-minded on several issues. He will surely be missed.

Requiescat in peace.

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