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True West Indian scholar buried
He was defined by UWI’s deputy principal Prof Rhoda Reddock as the quintessential Caribbean and University of the West Indies (UWI) man and as a member “of that generation that is now taking its leave… he fully embodied the ideals and aspirations that so defined the post-independence ethos in the region.” In this way the life of Prof Lawrence Aldridge Wilson, father of T&T Guardian’s chief editor, business, Anthony Wilson, was celebrated yesterday at the Lady of Fatima RC Church, Bushe Street, Curepe.
The church was filled with friends, colleagues, family and well-wishers, among them Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. Wilson, who lectured at UWI, St Augustine’s Faculty of Agriculture for decades and was its dean from 1981 to 1984 and 1988 to1994, made significant contributions to the region and world in tropical agriculture. He also acted as campus principal on several occasions.
He died on December 3, 18 days after his 79th birthday. He was remembered with respect, affection and even laughter as his family lovingly shared anecdotes about him. Tributes were paid to the former plant physiologist by Reddock on the university’s behalf and its Food and Agriculture Faculty and by two of his four sons—Anthony and Evan—who also read remarks by their mother and their brother Gareth.
In her tribute, Reddock recalled the contributions Wilson made to the university and their effects on many who came into contact with a man she defined as very quiet and possessing an air of calm. She said: “He served on many international boards and held many titles, including founding member, adviser and consultant and honorary member.
“He served as chair of the board of trustees of the CGIAR, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria, the world’s leading research partner in finding solutions to hunger, malnutrition and poverty. “A true West Indian scholar, Prof Wilson will forever be remembered as a man who contributed significantly to education, research and development in the field of tropical agriculture.”
To his children, however, he was, simply, Dad. Anthony, Wilson’s third son, said: “He led a full and rewarding life and received many honours locally, regionally and internationally for his many contributions to the field of agriculture but for us, his four sons, he was a man we loved, admired, respected because of the upright and righteous way in which he led his life. He led by example.”
Anthony recalled his father’s disciplined habit of getting up at 5 am every day and working for at least three hours before having breakfast, which he said he maintained until almost the end of his life. “Lawrence Wilson was a man of God. He lived his life through the code of the Ten Commandments. As a father of four boys his outstanding qualities were calmness and tolerance,” he said.
Wilson was not only remembered for his academic prowess but also for his love of cricket and pan. Anthony recalled his father’s love for pan was developed while he attended UWI’s Mona Campus. Panman Dane Gulston played How Great Thou Art during the ceremony.
Anthony’s brother, Evan, delivered a tribute on behalf of his mother, Desiree, who jokingly recalled Wilson as “not a humble man at all,” to which many chuckled were heard. His wife wrote Wilson had a sense of quirky humour which he kept to the very end. “This was such a positive part of his character that I once said to a friend that I could never leave him because who would make me laugh?
“Yes, he was calm and tolerant but to the point of irritation. Do you know what it was like to live with someone with whom you could not pick a fight?” she wrote, at which members of the congregation laughed. Wilson was interred at UWI’s cemetery, St Augustine.
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