By Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves
(Editor’s Note: The following tribute was delivered on radio around 4:40 p.m. on Saturday July 19, 2014 around 4:40 p.m., while the funeral for Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch was still underway in Georgetown. The Author’s Note explains why)
[Author’s Note: The tribute published below is what I would have read at EG Lynch’s funeral on Saturday, July 19, 2014, at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Georgetown.
Due to the excessive noise and unruly behaviour of a tiny minority of the congregation at the funeral service, comprising clearly of die-hard NDP supporters, who were hostile to me delivering a tribute, I chose to speak briefly only. I did not want a solemn occasion to further deteriorate; and so as to ensure continued respect for EG, his family and friends, I indicated that I would publish my tribute which was to be delivered.]
First, let me thank the members of Elwardo Lynch’s family for their personal invitation for me to attend this funeral and to make a few remarks in tribute.
One of the hallmarks of civilisations is the way the dead are commemorated or celebrated: the mourning, the rituals, the community solidarity at the time of sadness and loss. At these times, we still the raging controversies, if any; and in our Christian traditions and teachings, we bury our dead in dignity and respect, in accord with Christ’s redeeming grace. In our Caribbean civilisation, death has always been rightly seen as an occasion for healing; for reconciliation; and a renewed quest for personal and collective redemption; let this one be so.
Elwardo Lynch knew all this to be true and had his voice not been silenced he would at least have whispered audibly: “Amen”. We, too, know all of this to be true:
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is tramping out the vintage where grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.” [Julia Ward Howe]
I know Elwardo Lynch long before he became a celebrated name on talk-radio. And I communed with him during that time and after. Some people tend to forget that Lynch’s time-span on radio was only eleven years out of his 70 years on earth. There was more to his life than talk-radio. From ages ago, EG Lynch and Ferdie Toney were my friends, even before they jointly moved and operated their Bar and Restaurant business in Georgetown. EG cooked and baked for me at his famous “Save a Penny” establishment. I did free legal work for him. And later, I patronised his Club Flamingo. In the early-to-mid-1980s, he became a member of the Movement for National Unity (MNU) of which I was the Political Leader. I believe that the first-ever, formal political training that EG did, was the one on which I sent him in Barbados sponsored by the Freiderich Ebert Stiftung Foundation of Germany. In 1989, he supported the candidacy of Jonathan Peters, his boyhood friend from Caratal with whom he also shared a close relationship in New York.
Amidst all the controversies between EG and me from 2001 onwards, we maintained cordial relations. Every time we met in public or private, we spoke on friendly terms, devoid of malice.
Only those who did not know of our personal relationship going back nearly 40 years would have been surprised that I visited him at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on more than one occasion, and that as late as April of this year, I spent a half-hour with him at his Nursing Home in Dorsetshire Hill. It is not necessary for me to provide the details of those visits, except to say that I went to see him with a pure heart and a loving spirit.
In the early 17th century, John Donne wrote memorably about his meditations on mortality and advised us aptly that:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; — any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee; — if by this consideration of another’s danger, I take mine into contemplation, and so to secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.”
EG Lynch was a man of many parts and many talents, and many wits. He would be remembered most notably by the multitudes for his use of radio on behalf of the political party which engaged him for that purpose. But for how long will the multitudes remember him; the multitudes forget easily, with short memories. But to EG Lynch’s family, friends, and the individual strangers whose lives he touched, he would be long and best remembered for his kindness, his generosity, and his love for them.
EG Lynch was one of those soldiers who have left us, about whom it can be said:
“They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them.”
Certainly his family, friends, and the strangers whose lives he touched, will remember him.
With the passing of Glen Jackson in 2006 and now EG Lynch in 2014, the titans of political talk radio are gone.
Farewell, EG Lynch. As the veil of your earthly life is lifted and its threads are ravelled up, you no longer despair. When on Judgement Day you arise, I intended to meet you there.
On behalf of the Government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and on my own personal behalf, I extend sincerest condolences to the family and friends of EG Lynch and to the members of the NDP on whose behalf he laboured well.
“I looked over Jordan, and what did I see
Comin’ for to carry me home?
A band of angels comin’ after me,
Comin’ for to carry me home.”
May EG’s soul rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.