STAR Publisher Rick Wayne called Newsspin Wednesday to enquire of the host whether he had in his possession any official government tribute to former governor general Boswell Williams who passed at the weekend. Three days after the news, there was hardly an official quip. Later on his show, Tim would reveal that the Governor General was out of state. But he was in no mood to use that as excuse; what with the internet?
Finally on Thursday, an official release came from the office of the prime minister.
The Cabinet of Ministers has with profound sadness learnt of the passing of former Governor General Boswell Williams. H. E Boswell Williams served Saint Lucia with dedication, humility and honour, first as a member of the Civil Service, next as a Saint Lucia Labour Party Parliamentary Representative and then in the highest public office of the land, as Governor General.
Further, his was considered as being among the keenest of political minds the island has produced and even following his retirement from active politics he closely followed events and would often write on matters of national concern. He also, during that period, provided wise counsel to then Political Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, Sir Julian Robert Hunte.
Though save for the period 1979 to 1982, his entire active political life was in opposition, this never deterred him and he served his party with a fervor belying that reality. In this regard he served for several years as the SLP’s General Secretary and was also elected to the House of Assembly on his Party’s ticket.
In July 1979, a mere four months following the country’s attainment of political independence, the Labour Party was swept into governance for the first time in fifteen years and one year later Mr. Williams would be appointed the island’s second Governor General a position he held until December 1982 when he resigned from office.
It has been suggested that his stint as Governor General coincided with the island’s greatest constitutional crisis when internal party wrangling caused the collapse, first of the Louisy administration and months later, the successor Cenac administration. The double blows led to the installation of what to this day is still referred to by some as the extra constitutional Michael Pilgrim administration. Even as he remained satisfied that what had been proposed to him by the island’s political parties and the social and religious partners was not in conformity with the island’s constitution, he nonetheless considered it best for the island and against his own ingrained sense of constitutional procedures he proceeded to appoint what was termed “an interim Government” which would serve for a six month period. History has since judged this act of statesmanship as a turning point in the young nation’s governance.
He faced his personal battles with the same steadfastness he displayed as Governor General and this was never more evident than when in 1974 his brother Bruce was, as he put it, “denied the seat he had rightfully won.” The episode which has since being immortalized in the words, “It will be alright in the morning,” saw his brother emerge victorious on election night only for the result to be overturned on the official count the following day.
Upon his retirement from the high office of Governor General in 1982, he maintained the simplicity that had characterised his life, demonstrating that high office need not change the holder. He in effect remained the same approachable and simple individual he had always been. His house at Sans Souci was forever open to anyone who required his counsel, something he gave freely and willingly almost to his very last days. Rank meant nothing to him other than to be used for the betterment of those he considered himself privileged to serve.
The Government of Saint Lucia salutes the contribution of our fallen comrade H. E. Boswell Williams for his service to country and party.
To his wife and children we extend our sincerest condolences and offer support as they grieve his passing. His Excellency may be gone but he will never be forgotten.