Thu | Dec 13, 2018

'Barnett was the only father we knew'

Published:Thursday | August 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
From left: Tristan Donaldson (grandson) and Racquelle Cross (granddaughter) carry the ashes of their grandfather, Eric Coleridge Barnett, at a service of thanksgiving held in his honour at the UWI Chapel, Mona, yesterday.

Pierre Rogers is convinced that if it were not for the intervention of the late Eric Coleridge Barnett who gave him a second chance while he was a student at the Wolmer's Boys' School in Kingston, he wouldn't be the man he is today.

Rogers was among a number of persons who packed the University of the West Indies Chapel in St Andrew for Barnett's thanksgiving service. In his tribute, Rogers spoke highly of the former principal's ability to be fair and just in his approach to discipline.

"I was sent to Mr Barnett's office for fighting in a vice-principal's class, and instead of expelling me, Mr Barnett sent for my mother. He told her in my presence that I either had to shape up and live up to my potential or get out. My mother cried, and that hurt (me) more than any caning or any expulsion," he told the gathering.

"Mr Barnett gave me my proverbial chance, and one year later, I'm made prefect. Two years later, I'm head boy, and today, I'm an attorney," he recounted.

Rogers continued, "He was fair, pure, and honest in his approach. Mr Barnett was a second father to those of us lucky enough to have a father figure in our lives, and for those of us who were not so fortunate, he was the only father we knew."




Barnett's daughter, Karen Dondaldson, said that she would always remember her father's ability to raise his children despite losing his wife at an early stage in their marriage.

"Dad is the true embodiment of the father who mothered us. Amid the tragic turmoil of losing our beautiful mother at the age of 34, dad still raised us so we could stand on mountains. He learnt how to wash our hair. Then he would put us in the sun to dry, after which he would put us in braids," she said laughing.

"He was quite contemplative, extremely wise, well read, and intuitive. He made an indelible impact on the lives of so many people. He was a minister, a headmaster, a historian, a teacher, and a guidance counsellor," Donaldson reminisced.