Remembering Prof. Simeon ‘Randy’ McIntosh

Delivered at the funeral service of Professor Simeon ‘Randy’ McIntosh on Friday 5th April 2013 at the Cathedral Of The Immaculate Conception in Grenada by Ruggles Ferguson, a close personal friend and president of the OECS Bar Association.

A gem of a man, an illustrious son, a quintessential academic, the Guru of Jurisprudence, a Caribbean scholar of rare distinction, a giant of a man in every sense, a passionate Professor, a compassionate human being…

Whether from the rasta-man hustling on the famous Grand Anse Beach in Grenada, or from former appreciative students dispersed throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean, or from members of the legal profession and fellow colleagues or former colleagues in the academic community, the positive accolades — more often than not expressed in superlative terms — continue to pour in for Professor Simeon McIntosh following his untimely and unexpected passing on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, mere days after suffering a massive stroke.

Simeon Charles Randolph McIntosh, popularly and affectionately called ‘Randy’, was born on the 14th July 1944 in the village of Mt Pleasant, Carriacou. He was the last of the nine children of his parents, Evangeline McIntosh, a housewife, and Simeon Charles McIntosh, a boat captain who plied the Caribbean region, and who later turned farmer after his boat sank sometime in the 1940s.

Randy received his early education at the Mt. Pleasant Government School and thereafter at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School (GBSS) on the mainland. At the GBSS his academic excellence, sense of focus and admirable discipline earned him the enviable titles of Prefect and Sergeant Major in the Cadet Corps. He was one of the outstanding speakers in the 1963 Arts Festival, contributing to the GBSS win in the Public speaking component of that Festival, defeating then favourites Presentation Brothers’ College whose team included the great orator Maurice Bishop, a future Prime Minister.

Randy’s outstanding attributes also earned him a teaching position at the GBSS for two years before he took off for higher studies at Brooklyn College in New York; thereafter to Toronto, Canada; and, later, back to the United States of America.

In Pursuit Of Higher Education

From an early age, Randy understood the importance of higher education, not just as a route to upward social mobility, but also as a tool in reshaping society and making that positive difference for which we all yearn. He wanted to make that difference. He performed with distinction and grasped opportunities whenever they became available.

Randy’s track record speaks for itself. It’s a record of excellence and perseverance: 1971 Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from York University in Toronto; 1974 Juris Doctor degree from Howard University in Washington; 1975 Master of Laws degree from Columbia University. No wonder he was a man of letters — first degree in literature and second and third degrees in law.

From Student to Lecturer to Professor

Armed with three degrees and a sound academic background, Randy entered the world of teaching at the University level, beginning in 1975 at the University of Oklahoma College of Law for one year; continuing in 1976 at the Howard University School of Law for 14 years; and crowning it all with his longest stint at our own University of the West Indies, Faculty of Law, for an impressive and stimulating 20 years. Randy has amassed over 35 years in full time teaching at the University level, during which his noted scholarship earned him the titles of Professor of Law Emeritus at Howard University in 1991 and Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of the West Indies in 1996. At UWI he was eventually elevated, in 2004, as the Dean of the Faculty of Law.

This Guru of Jurisprudence, hailing from that tiny island of just under 13 square miles, has literally taught THOUSANDS of students from all walks of life, in and out of the USA, and, closer to home, from Jamaica in the North to Guyana in the South, arming them with the tools to better understand legal philosophy and the basic theories and foundations of law.

A Practical Application of Legal Theory

Professor Simeon McIntosh was not all about academics and theory in the classroom. It was all about equipping students with the requisite tools to reshape our societies as true models of democratic governance. That’s why he was so enthusiastic and passionate about constitutional reform, not just in Grenada — where he was leading the process right up to his untimely passing — but also throughout the OECS and wider Caribbean.

He was practical in his application: to ensure a proper and effective system of checks and balances within the constitutional framework in order to prevent abuse of power; to create a true separation of powers by defining new roles for the Head of State in the formalized Republican — NOT Monarchical — State; to sever all links with our colonial past; to introduce local Government as an effective institution of true and meaningful peoples power; to creatively combine the unique system of FIRST PAST THE POST and PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION to ensure a more vibrant democracy in a unicameral — NOT bicameral — house where the opposition will always have a voice in Parliament; to embrace the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final Court of Appeal; and to re-write and simplify our constitutional texts to enable the man in the street to better understand its contents.

Randy — A Man of Many Moods & Attitudes

Randy displayed a range of emotions — from the mild, to the moderate, to the extreme, depending on the topic, the occasion and the targeted ‘enemy’. At times, he was impatient, intolerant, impulsive, dismissive and sometimes even disrespectful. A self-confident and skilled debater, with a thorough understanding of constitutional issues, he was always prepared to pounce on those who dared challenge his cherished and well thought-out views. On the issue of the CCJ and delinking from the Privy Council, he was uncompromising. Woe to those who advocated the retention of the Privy Council, or the preservation of the monarchy, or even to taking a piecemeal as opposed to a holistic approach to constitutional reform. In his controversial and adversarial style, he was openly and sharply critical of Caribbean leaders and others who sought to hold on a little longer with the Privy Council and to continue to procrastinate about the CCJ. For Randy, it mattered not who you were — whether Prime Minister or Law Lord of the Privy Council — the many times biting criticisms rained down, with little or no concern for diplomacy.

The Generous and Compassionate Randy

Underneath the fierce looking ‘Mohammed Ali’ physique and image — which he constantly reminded me of, during especially heated moments of debate, with particular emphasis on the deadly capability of his fists — was an unbelievably generous and compassionate heart. He bore an extremely tough exterior, which contrasted with his extremely tender interior — a heart of gold! He cared deeply about human beings, particularly those in need or facing mental or physical challenges. He gave selflessly to multiple causes. He wished for nothing in return. And, more importantly, he never publicized it. He loved children and showered his many adopted ‘nieces & nephews’ with gifts, never missing a birthday and remembering them all at Christmas. Many times he paid school fees, purchased schoolbooks, provided money for meals, and contributed towards medical care.

A former President of the OECS Bar, Nicole Sylvester, called me only yesterday to lament her inability to attend today’s funeral because of an overseas clashing medical appointment involving one of her young sons, which she tried to reschedule without success. But she has virtually demanded me to mention the compassionate support demonstrated by Randy towards herself and her kids after the passing of her mother and father within a matter of months. In December 2012 he wrote to her a very moving letter, empathising with her loss, especially the prospect of spending her first Christmas without both parents. She has vowed to cherish that letter forever which advised, in part, that she alleviate the pain “ … by cherishing the wonderful life you have had with them. This way, you would always carry them, day after day, in your heart, and your life would honour their memory.” Straight from the powerful pen of the philosopher!

Outside of the stern classroom demeanour, Randy was likeable, down-to-earth, good natured, had a ‘wicked’ sense of humour, and enjoyed good West Indian ‘ole talk’ among friends. The University Professor fitted comfortably at the bar in Blue Danube enjoying the regular cow-heel soup and peal and the Oil Down on special occasions; at the barber shop receiving a regular hair-cut from Shaba with a barrage of directions on what to and not to do; or among the vendors and masses during his regular Guava Fish Friday visits.

Close Family Friend

Randy was an integral part of our family in Grenada and our home in Grenada. He was a part of virtually all our family gatherings, including those of extended family: birthdays, Christmas dinners, whenever he was in Grenada, and other special occasions. Religiously, every Sunday, after Church, he came home to share a local breakfast. Tammy & I shall miss his very entertaining and, most times, boisterous company.

Randy enjoyed food and classical music. For several years he has been enjoying a good lambie steak and well-done french fries at the Le Chateau Restaurant! Apart from breakfast on Sundays, last February we enjoyed a trip to the popular Fish Friday in Gouyave and the lime at the national stadium during the one-day internationals between the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

His Final Days

On March 15th, 2013 Randy left Grenada for Barbados with the intention of tying up some personal business — including the purchasing of a house and celebrating, in the usual grand style, the birthday (on March 17th) of his close partner of more than ten years, Beverley Haynes and her daughter — his special angel — Keshia. From all reports, they had a wonderful time, dining the evening away.

He was scheduled to head off to London on April 15 to participate in a conference on “Constitutional Reform in the Commonwealth Caribbean”. He was very excited about the feature paper he was invited to present — and which he had long prepared on “Constituent Power, Constitutional Authorship and Democratic Legitimacy — The Case for Constitutional Reform in Grenada”. Right up Randy’s sleeve — he was tasked with drafting our new constitution and he had already prepared several updated drafts in keeping with on-going feedback from various consultations. From London, he was scheduled to return to Grenada to continue his work here.

Before Randy left Grenada he was full of his usual vigour, energy and enthusiasm. On the Monday before (Mar 11th) he contributed a set of his books to the GBSS during a general assembly at the auditorium specifically held for that purpose. The day before he left (Thursday) for Barbados he gave a ‘very generous donation’, according to one of the teachers, to his old Archer House in relation to the GBSS sports held on that day, and for the house fete the day after.

The shattering news was delivered to us in the wee hours of Monday morning by Randy’s partner Beverley and her daughter Keshia: Randy had suffered a massive stroke and had to be rushed by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was lying in a helpless state. The rest is history. He passed away four days later. At least Tammy & I were able to be with him on the Monday and Tuesday, having flown up from Grenada. We can also take comfort that before he completely lost consciousness he was able feel the presence of his dear friend Francis Letang, a senior offical at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, who had flown in from St. Lucia; and a delegation from the CCJ, headed by its President Sir Dennis Byron, and including Justices Adrian Saunders and Winston Anderson.

His Legacy Continues

A true Grenadian, OECS and Caribbean scholar, patriot, and outstanding intellectual has passed on to the great beyond. However, though he will not be with us in the living flesh, his SPIRIT, MEMORY and LEGACY shall continue to live on. His legacy lives on in the scores of his articles in various regional newspapers spanning more than twenty years and touching and concerning various aspects of fundamental rights and freedoms; in the many stimulating and thought-provoking papers he delivered at the OECS Bar Association continuing education programmes; in the many special lectures he delivered throughout the Caribbean and captured in audio and video formats; in his several publications in various law journals throughout the commonwealth.

His legacy remains permanently enshrined in his four books published in the last ten years, including Caribbean Constitutional Reform: Rethinking the West Indian Polity; Kelsen in the Grenada Court — Essays on Revolutionary Legality; and his latest one Reading Text & Polity: Hermeneutics & Constitutional Theory.

Randy appropriately dedicated his book Fundamental Rights & Democratic Governance- Essays in Caribbean Jurisprudence — to his parents whom he loved and admired, who shaped his early life, through sweat and sacrifice, and laid the foundations for his future success.

The inscription in his book reveals the poetry and tender heart consistent with the true, compassionate Randy. It reads “To the memory of my mother Evangeline the lady who held the lamp at my feet that I should never walk in darkness AND my father SIMEON for whom I am named and with this work I offer him my song.”

The greatest tribute we can pay to Randy is to continue the process of Caribbean Constitutional Reform — to create new constitutions that come from the bowels of our people and that reflect the wishes and aspirations of our people — and for Caribbean nations to collectively join the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

Goodbye Randy

The energetic, enthusiastic, indefatigable and larger than life Simeon ‘Randy’ McIntosh is no more. Goodbye Randy — esteemed Professor and cherished friend! Regrettably, you have been cut down before completing the race to the finish line, as was your burning desire. But you have given us a brilliant head-start. The obligation now rests on our shoulders to continue the journey with your same steadfastness and single-minded purpose — certainly not an easy task but we shall give it our best in our quest to create that truly democratic society and to model and shape those democratic institutions which we can proudly call our own. Thank you Randy for your sterling and selfless contribution! May you rest in peace dear friend! May you rest in peace my brother!

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