Cyprian Bernard “Ches’” Gibbs
An unavoidable sadness of those who live for more than ‘three score and ten’ is that there are few around to remember their glory days. Few will remember the vivacious Ches’ Gibbs. Ches’ Gibbs, the senior civil servant who walked with kings but never lost the common touch, the consummate story-teller, but those who do will know that his passing marks another milestone on our journey away from a past that was critical for our emergence from colonialism. He had a long innings and played it with distinction.
He attended the
“As a student …. I profited immensely from his
tutorial, counseling and athletic skills.
I credit Mr.
He was one of the first generation of West Indians groomed
by the British for leadership in the Colonial Service. Gifted with a brilliant mind, remarkable good
looks and unerring charm, he rose in the ranks of the
In 1946 he was commissioned by the then Administrator of St.Vincent, Ronald Garvey, to prepare a Development Plan of the Colony of St. Vincent. It was the first of its kind and served as a blue print for St.Vincent’s socio-economic development for many years. It was his magnum opus, his pride and joy. It was the only possession he treasured, and kept close to him to the end.
He was also proud of the water tank in Hillsborough, Carriacou, named for him by the people of Carriacou in appreciation of his leadership in the rehabilitation effort following Hurricane Janet in 1955.
Over the years he served
He was a wonderful father to the 5 children of his marriage to Kathleen. He inspired their education, a formidable work ethic and their commitment to public service.
He lived for many years in the
In 2003 he moved to
He inspired loyalty, devotion and enduring affection from those who knew him. For his 80th birthday, his son-in-law, Ken Antrobus wrote him a poem “80 Not Out” with the following verse that sums up what he meant to those who knew him:
Your kith and your kin and your friends all salute
A colourful life – that none will dispute.
Details we’ll eschew, it’s the substance we count –
And the fun and the wisdom that pour from your font.
He leaves to mourn his wife Sybil, his former wife Kathleen
and their 3 children –
In his last years, in the Seniors’ Home in Barbados where he lived, he had the good fortune to share a room with a Barbadian teacher who helped him recover his knowledge and love of the Latin scholars and English poets. They sharpened each other’s minds and their intellectual powers returned. When Ches’ Gibbs died his new friend provided a quotation from Tacitus’ Agricola, a fitting farewell to a great West Indian:
“Si quis piorum manibus locus est
Si quis ut placet sapientiae magnae animae non periuntur
Placide requiescat in Pace”
If there is a place for the souls of honourable men,
If, as scholars believe, great souls do not perish,
May you rest in peace.