Vendryes warred within himself in last days
It was a sombre atmosphere inside the Holy Trinity Church, West Gate, St James, last Saturday, where scores of persons bid farewell to medical doctor and nutritional expert Anthony Vendryes, who was hailed as “a true patriot and stalwart”.
But Vendryes, who for more than 25 years promoted prevention as the key to health and wellness, especially through his Gleaner column, An Ounce of Prevention, was conflicted in his last days, as he had an internal battle over whether he should subject himself to traditional or naturopathic medicine.
Vendryes died at his sister’s home in Kingston on May 1 after being sidelined by illness for some time.
The 72-year-old left behind his wife and lifetime partner of 46 years, Dorothy.
In a stirring eulogy, Dr Christopher Vendryes recalled that his brother’s final days were faced with what was arguably the mother of all dilemmas.
The younger Vendryes said: “I sensed a conflict. I sensed where Tony was torn between his beliefs – what he practised and what he preached.”
He explained that as the years passed, clearly frustrated with what he saw as “a Band-Aid solution to the issue of medical services here in Jamaica”, Anthony Vendryes embarked on a pathway to revolutionise medicine and the entire medical fraternity in Jamaica.
Traditional medicine and the role of other types of medicine came into play, and the elder Vendryes became relentless.
“He meditated daily, became a vegetarian, and changed his practice to a holistic one,” Christopher Vendryes said.
Not afraid to take risks, Anthony Vendryes came under pressure from the medical community, the congregation was told, but he stood his ground and became a leading voice of the preventative wellness movement.
So it was even the more ironic, Christopher explained, that during the course of his illness, he was now faced with the ultimate choice of possibly life or death.
“He was faced with a choice in light of his illness: Should he stay with what he practised, or should he revert to the traditional medicine? And true to form, he chose to live what he practised, and what he preached,” he told a stunned and teary-eyed audience.
Christopher said his older brother was contented that he had completed his life’s journey.
“The last time I saw him and spoke with him, he talked of death and dying. We are not fearful of dying, but we do care how we die,” he revealed.
Anthony Vendryes made his brother promise him three things: To get him out of the hospital so he could “die well” at home; ensure he was not placed in a nursing home; and “no fuss, no fanfare, no funeral service”.
Admitting he had no control over the service, Christopher spoke glowingly of his brother, burnishing tributes made by members of the Masonic fraternity, Wolmer’s old boys, the medical fraternity, and Herbalife.
Close family friend, attorney-at-law Gordon Brown, stated: “I have lost in Tony a tremendous personal friend. He was my own physician for many years, including my confidant. He was an extraordinary thinker … a man with a magnanimous heart … full of love for his fellow man. He counted every man as his brother and every man as his friend.”
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen; former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and wife Paulette; chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Godfrey Dyer, and his wife Odette, headed the list of dignitaries in attendance.