By Bryan Alexander
(Following is the prepared text of the eulogy delivered at the Funeral Service for Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Georgetown on Saturday, July 19, 2014.)
With protocol having been established…
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It is with a sense of honour that I speak briefly about the life and times of EG Lynch. When I was asked by EG’s daughter to do this honourable thing, I had mixed thoughts which were interrupted by Shafia’s sobbing, yet encouraging voice saying: “E.G. would have wanted it. So, Bryan, you can do it”.
And so it is that we are here celebrating the life and times of a father, husband, brother, teacher, uncle, social commentator, businessman and talk show host for the New Democratic Party during the 11 years that he spent on NICE Radio from Monday to Friday between the hours of 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 pm.
Mr. Elwardo Gideon Lynch … Yes! That is his correct name, and I wonder why his first name was not Gideon, because when I look in the Bible, there is mention of a man with that name, who the Lord used against the armies of evil that fought the Jews, a mighty warrior was he — but I digress…
E.G. was born on the 5th day of June 1944 in Georgetown, in the hamlet he made famous – Basin Hole. I don’t think a day went by on radio that EG did not mention Basin Hole. He joked about his humble beginnings and waxed nostalgic about his birth into poverty. He would remind us that when the rain fell on the small house in which his mother and siblings lived, the roof would leak and they would all try to avoid getting wet. He told us that they set pails and other metal containers under the leaks and he enjoyed the music played by the raindrops falling in the different containers, as he jokingly hummed an accompanying tune.
E.G.’s father was Wilmut “Mucking” Lynch. His Mother, Miss Pearl Agatha Billy Blake had 13 children most of whom have passed on, the latest being his sister Vernie. Only 5 siblings are left to mourn EG’s passing:
- Beleitha, who resides in the UK;
- Ricardo known to most as “man on the run”;
- Godwin better known as Gao;
- and the youngest, Azubah
E.G. also leaves to mourn his wife Lorna Lynch, his children Sophia, Justin, Shafia, Osborne, Keino, Kelorne, Zwayne, Len, Keo, Gidal, Kleous, and Keonnie, his grandchildren — among other close relatives and friends. I take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to you all. May Almighty God shine his light on you giving you strength to endure the pain that EG’S departure from this life may bring.
E.G. attended the Georgetown Primary School before moving to Chateaubelair to live with his father. There he attended the Chateaubelair Methodist School and met Mr Alphonso “Saga Quart” Dennie, who would become one of his best friends. At just 24 years of age, Mr Dennie was the headmaster of the school. Mr Dennie recalls the young EG as a brilliant schoolboy who surprised no one when he became the top student in his class. E.G. passed his exams with flying colours and obtained what was called in those days the “School Leaving Certificate.” When E.G. left the Chateaubelair Methodist School he did so not only as a graduate, but after a short stint teaching there. E.G. later attended the Barrouallie Teachers Training Centre and again finished at the top of his class achieving the status of supernumerary teacher (A big word really to describe a substitute teacher).
E.G. returned to the home of his Mother in Georgetown and she, a die-hard Joshua supporter, was instrumental in getting him a job as a teacher.
We enter the period of E.G.’s life where he made history. E.G.’s parents could not afford to send him to Secondary School so, undeterred, he set about teaching himself. He borrowed textbooks from friends and was helped by a few fellow teachers in their spare time. He was enabled no doubt by his love of reading. EG read obsessively. His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. Nothing was too trivial or even too highbrow for E.G..
[Corn Curls wrapper]
Our mostly self-taught friend sat 7 O’ Levels on his own and passed 6, earning a distinction in English Language, which was almost unheard of in those days.
[O’level results list]
Now armed with the necessary qualifications, E.G. applied for and got a clerical job in the Civil Service. He worked as a Clerk at the Income Tax Department in Kingstown for years until an error of judgment resulted in a stint with Mason. And although he paid the debt that society demanded, persons, including some claiming to be his friends, never passed up on the opportunity to remind him of this indiscretion. But, just as poverty could not deprive EG of an education, his mistake did not prevent him achieving — maybe even spurred him — to greatness. Upon his return, EG hit the ground running, crafting a legacy of which his children and a nation can justly be proud.
After living about 6 years in New York, E.G. was reincarnated as a shrewd businessman teaming up with the famous Ferdie and operating a restaurant, bar and dance hall which they called “Footsteps.” E.G. was an extremely good cook and lots of people can attest to that fact, so the business took off. When E.G. and Ferdie decided that they had outgrown each other, E.G. branched out on his own to open a business which he called “Save a Penny.” It was in this period of his life that I met this midget who was really a giant.
I encountered E.G. for the first time in 1985 when TOUCH was just formed. I was struck by his voice. This 5-foot-5-inch-tall man possessed the pipes of a 7-footer. He convinced me that I should launch TOUCH at “Save a Penny”, and he never told me how much money the band would be paid, all because he had a sweet mouth. Anyway, EG did pay us a good sum, and then asked if we could do it again the following week. He was smiling from ear to ear as he said so.
E.G.’s “Save a Penny” was known nationwide for its unique activities. EG was what we call a hustler and a true innovator. My friends, E.G. was unbelievably innovative! Who else would think of having a Bingo and Dance, grease up a pole, install the more-than-25-foot-tall pole in the ground, place $500.00 at the top of that pole, giving patrons a chance, after they had paid him $20, to climb this greased up pole to retrieve the $500 at its top as a prize. EG did the same with a greasy pig; catch the greasy pig and win a cash prize.
After the building that housed “Save a Penny” became run down, E.G. applied for and occupied a piece of land from the Government and opened his second business: a large entertainment hall which he called “The Flamingo.” At this venue, EG was far more organised and made some good cash when he produced shows and dances with local and foreign acts. His good cooking was known regionally and so people flocked to savour his meals. One can see our friend now, immaculately dressed — E.G. loved to dress up and brag about how expensive his clothing was and who gave it to him. He boasted that he never bought clothes for himself, only for his children.
We all have our flaws, but for the life of me I can’t forgive E.G. for not sharing with me before he passed his secret to having so many female friends without there being any hostility. Sweet mouth.
E.G. also tried his hand at calypso, performing under the name “Teach”. Perhaps it was then that he found his voice for social and political commentary. A less than beautiful voice for calypso, it was resonant and profound on talk radio. Poetry on radio. Good thing we in Church because I would have liked to give you some of his classics.
As far back as the hot, early NICE Radio years, despite the New Democratic Party’s then low official results and continuing into these years of NDP ascendancy, any pronouncement by E.G. grabbed national attention. Remember always his stinging intellect when he in mere seconds analysed a caller and would in few words either relate to the essence of their complaint or hit them a stunning blow. People would stop work to listen to E.G., or plan their lunch break to coincide with his peak hour. His programs were monitored recorded and transcribed by Special Branch Unit officers. He kept women and men of far greater formal education in complete awe of his mental and verbal prowess. When his monologue was in full flight, E.G. had no need to press his famous blue button.
As if by unspoken agreement, listeners whether supportive or opposing, would forego their calls to his program in order to follow his line of argument as it climaxed. E.G. was respected for his words, criticised for his words, quoted and praised for his words, sued for his words, hunted and charged for his words, fought for freedom of expression with his words, is entered in the annals of Vincentian history for his words. All’yo doan know how I miss those words.
And so it is that we look into the life of the man Elwardo Gideon Lynch, the man we knew, the man we can still see in our mind’s eye, not his mortal remains in that casket, but a man who never stopped talking, never stopped motioning with his hands when he spoke like he was sometimes massaging his words and at other times spanking them; the man who, when you listened to him publicly or in the privacy of your home, gave you free entertainment, free advice on how to live your life, free counselling when things got bad in your marriage, when you wanted to give up on life, when you had a bill that you could not pay, when you had a disease and did not know what to do, when you were pressured into a corner by the powers that be with no escape route in sight, the man who seemed to know everything about anything … except legal matters, he always admitted. That man impacted a nation and a sub-region.
The E.G. we knew was a man who would never admit defeat in an argument; he would leave the argument, drive away in his vehicle and come back with books or other data to prove his point. I learnt so much from this brilliant man and you people in Radio land also, you must have listened to many an educational class that E.G. gave to us on FIRST FM, CROSS COUNTRY RADIO, and especially NICE RADIO.
E.G. was an ardent supporter of the NDP who battled on with and for the party even in the loneliest days after the 2001 general elections. He was one of the faithful in the trenches with Mr Eustace, Dr Friday, Mr Ollivierre, and the late Kerwin Morris among others as we fought outnumbered until now about to achieve what we all set out to do, E.G. is not here. Like a modern day Moses, he will not see the Promised Land, but he was the man with the microphone for a staff, helping to point the way.
When E.G. started the “New Times” program in 2002, he ate his lunch at my home because it was inconvenient to go back to his home in Georgetown to eat. We met every lunchtime for over 5 years. We became brothers. We argued at every meal, he was strong willed and never gave ground on any argument/discussion. E.G. was widely considered tough nosed in Radio land, but I wish they had known him personally. E.G. did not have a violent bone in his body. Several times we argued to a point where I thought the next step would be blows and then he would burst into laughter and ask why I am so thin skinned. I guess I am.
I have never met anyone who was as loyal and kind; I could remember him several times coming up to me and pushing what he would call “a specks man” in my hand (Sir Arthur Lewis wearing spectacles on the EC$100.00 bill) telling me that he had just won the Lotto or Three D game. Nor have I ever met anyone with EG’s attributes, the way he spoke with authority on any subject matter gave the impression that he was university trained and had majored in several disciplines. His intelligence rivalled the brightest.
I dropped E.G. off at NICE RADIO that dreaded morning and listened to the Radio for what he was going to say because I had given him some data about the present situation on Bananas in SVG. E.G. started with a prayer but it never ended, so one of the ladies in the station took over the prayer. E.G. then continued the program and kept repeating a sentence for a while. I knew something was wrong so I called Dougie, and EG was taken to the hospital. That was the beginning of good-bye – a good-bye that saw E.G., my friend who loved words, lose his ability to speak them and to tease them with his hands.
E.G., was a kind and loving father to all of his children, a good brother to his siblings and kind to people he did not even know. He would be sadly missed by all his friends at the Little Tokyo shops, all those who did not know him yet sought the counsel of this little giant of a man at Paddyfor Shop, Mr Miller’s Shop, Denise Shop, and Kenlyn’s #17 Shop. He would be missed by his childhood friends, Jucou, Bunyan, Blue Boy and Morallie of Chato, thousands of friends throughout SVG and St. Lucia, the leadership and general membership of the NDP – as well as, I expect, all political parties in SVG — and the people in the Diaspora who listened to the sound of his voice in Radio Land.
And so it is that the great E.G. has signed off. We shall ensure that his words continue to resonate.
And so it is ladies and gentlemen, if it is the will of God we would meet our brother E.G. in Heaven.