BASSETERRE, ST. Kitts – Former Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis, the late His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian Monday saluted as a “brilliant student, committed teacher, brave soldier, practicing physician, steadfast patriot, proud father, Head of State and a loyal friend.”
Telling thousands during a packed and overflowing church and those watching on television and listening via radio and social media around the world, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Sir Cuthbert was identified to become the Federation’s second Governor General because it was important that the next Head of State was an individual who understood the long sweep of St. Kitts and Nevis history.
“Someone who, throughout his or her life, had developed a familiarity with the socio-economic evolution of our country and someone who, based on temperament and the circumstances of his or her life, would be both willing and able to assume the responsibilities of Head of State in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas, who served as Prime Minister from July 1995 to February 2015.
Dr. Douglas said he held a meeting with Dr. Cuthbert Sebastian in 1996 to express the interest of his Cabinet in his assuming the responsibilities of Head of State.
“An in-depth discussion ensued. Dr. Sebastian permitted his name to be submitted to Buckingham Palace. His appointment was approved by Queen Elizabeth II. And Dr. Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian proceeded to serve the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis as Governor General with focus, commitment, and honour for the next seventeen years. And for this, both as the former Head of Government St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as in my capacity as a private citizen, I will forever be indebted to him,” said Dr. Douglas, who also spoke on behalf of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the country’s former Labour Party Administration.
He added that having been born the son of the politically active Joseph Matthew Sebastian and his wife Inez Veronica Sebastian, as a result of his standing as a medical doctor, and as a result of his mastery of the fields of finance and investments, Sir Cuthbert’s special insights were of great value both to the administration which he had the honour to lead, to the nation at large, and to him as a private citizen.
“As a newly-trained physician, well-steeped in the field of medicine but completely ignorant of the intricacies of building a medical practice, Sir Cuthbert generously provided invaluable advice on the do’s and don’ts of office site selection, office hour scheduling and the imperatives of sound medical office management,” he told the mourners which included family members, the Governors General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia; Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis, the Deputy Governor of Montserrat and the Ambassadors of Germany, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Cuba and Representative of Venezuela.
Years later, Sir Cuthbert was a source of informed and ready insights and advice on matters pertaining to affairs of state as on Tuesdays, immediately following the meeting of the Cabinet on Monday, he paid him the respect of meeting with Sir Cuthbert in order to fully brief him on the previous day’s Cabinet deliberations and decisions.
In addition to making himself available to me both as a private citizen and in my capacity as Prime Minister, Sir Cuthbert made a point of conveying his abiding interest in the people and affairs of this nation, as was readily evidenced by his presence at the widest possible range of public and private events, across the length and breadth of this nation well into his nineties. And for this, too, we will forever be in his debt,” Dr. Douglas told the State Funeral Service at the St. George’s Anglican Church, just next to the family home where Sir Cuthbert grew up and died on March 25th 2-17.
Dr. Douglas said Sir Cuthbert gave true meaning to the expression ‘servant of the people’, helping countless persons across the length and breadth of St. Kitts and Nevis, throughout the course of his lifetime and choosing to remain in St. Kitts and Nevis when there were so many important and lucrative opportunities awaiting him abroad.
“A high achiever in more fields than most of us can even begin to dream, he, clearly, was no ordinary man,’ said Dr. Douglas.
Asking the question, ‘What can we learn from the life of Sir Cuthbert? the distinguished former head of government said:
“He demonstrated the importance of focus; the importance of being concerned about, and involved in, the challenges of national development; the importance of placing country above self; the importance, most importantly, of building long-lasting relationships. Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian: brilliant student, committed teacher, brave soldier, practicing physician, steadfast patriot, proud father, Head of State and loyal friend. I shall deeply miss his counsel and friendship.”
“On behalf of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, and on my own behalf, I extend to every member of his family heartfelt sympathies. To Mildred, his near-lifelong partner of some 45 years, to Geron, Carleen, Janice, Cuthbert Jr, and – in particular, Ermelin, Samal, and Tony, who were with him as he drew his last breath, to his siblings, to the nurses who loyally cared for him until the very end. The nation thanks his family for the precious time, energy, and resources that were taken from them and shared with us, as Sir Cuthbert, over so many years, faithfully applied himself to affairs of state. We owe a debt of gratitude to him. We owe a debt of gratitude to his family.
May the soul of Sir Cuthbert, my friend and father figure, rest in eternal peace,” Dr. Douglas concluded.
A delegation representing the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) included Hon. Marcella Liburd, Chairperson and Parliamentary Representative for Central Basseterre (St. Christopher 2); Hon. Konris Maynard, Parliamentary Representative for West Basseterre, (St. Christopher 3); former Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Earl Asim Martin; former Minister of Tourism, Mr. Ricky Skerritt; former Minister of Agriculture, Mr., Cedric Liburd, former Speaker, Mr. Curtis Martin; and Mr. Linkon Maynard. The St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union was represented by Vice President, Mr. Sydney Bridgewater, General Secretary Mr. Batumba Tak and Mr. Stanley Franks Jr.