Since the untimely passing of the late Justice Suzie d’Auvergne, tributes to her life of national service and to her personal character and attributes have been coming in from people of all walks of life, and from every institution with which she was associated both at home and abroad. And how positive and salutary have they all been! As we prepare to commit her mortal remains to her grave, I want to add my own tribute to the many that have been aired and shared on both traditional and social media. I was indeed very saddened by her leaving us, especially as it all seemed to have happened so quickly.
When one speaks of eminent jurists in Saint Lucia, Suzie undoubtedly features high on the list. She took her judicial oath seriously, discharging her duty without fear or favour, malice or ill-will. It is not often that a “prophet finds acceptance in his own country”, but Suzie did. She dispensed justice in her own country, among her own people, with firmness and fairness, and for this, she earned the respect of law-breakers and law-abiding citizens alike.
I remember very vividly her administering the Oath of Office on my appointment as Governor General on the morning of September 17, 1997, almost seventeen years ago. We were both struck by the happy coincidence of the dates of our swearing-in as first national females in our respective posts. From then on, a bond of mentor and friend developed between us. Thus she would give me advice without my even soliciting it, and would call me from time to time to reassure me whenever there was the slightest whiff of criticism levelled at me or when there was a difficult decision to take. “Your Excellency” she would say, “just do what you think is right; don’t let people trouble your head”. And how right she often was!
I admired her for her unwavering faith, her deep spirituality, her wit and good humour. Such a pity that there may not have been enough time for her to record the vast trove of historical data, information and anecdotes handed down to her by her father, the inimitable Sullivan d’Auvergne, and which she shared with such fidelity and aplomb. Her own experiences at school, in her community and on the Bench supplemented those of her father, and these will remain among those who knew her, the d’Auvergne legacy.
She was indeed a jewel in our national crown, and a beacon to light the path of those among us who would wish to follow in her footsteps. She will be surely and sorely missed. Her life’s work of service and stewardship ended, may God’s richest blessings and mercies attend her.
Sometimes, people come into our lives, and like shadows disappear. But Suzie’s spirit will remain with us for many a year. May she rest in peace. But then again, she might very well be busying herself trying to put things right, on the other side! That would be so like Suzie!
Dame Pearlette Louisy