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Editorial: Barry Wade - a man beyond self

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Although it was a shock, Barry Wade would probably be pleased with the generally muted fashion with which his death has been received. That it was acknowledged would be sufficient. For the fact of Barry Wade is that while much of what he did was in public, he was genuinely in service of others. He was not self-absorbed.

In his most recent iteration, Dr Wade would possibly be better known to Jamaicans as the human rights activist; the man who a year ago stepped in as chairman of Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ), to rescue the organisation from a perilous implosion, after the scandal and infighting over its sex-education programme at children's homes. And after the intensity and high-velocity activism of the personalities like Carolyn Gomes and Susan Goffe, he was, at the time, the right man for the job. Barry Wade carried an aura of calm and, important to the organisation, elicited trust.

Very critically, too, his credentials in the defence of human rights and the advancement of social justice were no less than anyone else's - and more than most. Indeed, he was a founding member of JFJ, of which he had two stints as deputy chairman. His campaigning, though, was largely with an absence of drama. Perhaps it was that his brand of activism was a blend of the discipline of the science that he practised and the deeply Christian spirituality that he also lived.

Dr Wade was a founding partner in the consulting firm Environmental Solutions and had previously worked on Jamaica's energy development and diversification programme at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. He wrote peer-reviewed scientific articles.

But he was also a student of theology, a Baptist deacon and member of the group that launched and developed the Mona Baptist Church. For several years, he took time off from his job to work with poor and inner-city residents for a Mona Baptist Church ministry called Healing and Empowerment With Love and Prayer.




That perhaps explains why his two books, Ministry at the Margins and Journeys with Wolves and Lambs, were primarily reflections on life, its uncertainties and spiritual rather than orthodox memoirs and that his regular blogs were mostly reflections on friendships.

Indeed, it was a reflection of who he was and what he sought to attain that, on the second reading of a biography on Jamaican Roman Catholic missionary Father Richard Ho Lung, he remarked: "When I read it for the first time last week, it was to satisfy my interest in a man I admire and to be informed of his life story. I am now reading it a second time, to be further inspired and instructed by his life and teachings. Chances are I will probably read it a third time to see if I have got it all, which is hardly likely."

With Barry Wade's death, Jamaica has lost a pioneer scientist whose groundbreaking work helped pave the way for others. But more important, the country has lost an intensely human being who, if he were judged, it would be on the basis of character, and whose aim was to make us all better.