By Linda Straker
His former workers not only called and expressed condolences to his family, but many on Sunday night exchanged stories on how he impacted their professional live,s after learning that Mr Leslie Pierre, former editor of The Grenadian Voice, had passed away.
Describing him as a journalistic giant and a true Grenadian patriot, a statement from Information Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, said that for many years, Mr Pierre had been the virtual conscience of a nation through his advocacy and his willingness to speak truth to power, especially through his Personally Speaking newspaper column.
“Mr Pierre paid a tough price for his belief in a free media, spending nearly three years in prison because he stood up for those principles. He never harboured bitterness for his “detention,” but instead, when he was eventually freed, turned The Grenadian Voice into one of the most respected publications in our post independence era,” said that statement.
“His continuous quest for excellence; his uncompromising attitude to balance and responsible reporting; his dogged determination and strength of convictions, are elements of his life we can all emulate,” the statement continued.
Dr Mitchell said that shortly after learning of his passing, he spoke to Pierre’s wife and expressed his personal condolence to her and the entire family. “I am honoured to have been able to have called him a friend. Mr Pierre had set high standards; and the legacy of that must be the eternal flame that will shine on a new era of Grenadian journalism that will consistently and uncompromisingly speak to both balance and fairness,” the statement quotes Dr Mitchell as saying.
The Media Workers Association of Grenada in its statement called Pierre a stalwart defender of a free and open media in Grenada. “Indeed, when the history of modern day Grenadian journalism is written, there will be many chapters on the contribution of Mr Pierre, who was jailed in the early 1980s because he dared to defend the right for there to be a free press in Grenada,” the Association said in its statement.
“Through the years he has been a mentor to many local journalists; and an inspiration to us all. The media in Grenada is all better because this editor, writer, commentator and stickler for excellence in reporting, passed this way,” the statement said.
Current Minister for Youth Emmalin Pierre who worked with him for one year, in her Facebook condolence message said he had “a great positive impact” her life; while Hamlet Mark, senior communication advisor to Prime Minister Mitchell said that Mr Pierre instilled in him never to settle for nothing but the best and “that every word, in very story must mean something.”
“By his example, he also taught me to stand by the strength of your convictions. Always encouraged me to express my views and to write about them, even though 90% of the time it was different from his. But he was not just a boss, but a personal friend, who I ran to in my younger years anytime I was in trouble. I would seek him out for his advice,” Mark said in his recollection. “We were so close, he was like a father to me and my mother would call him when she could not get through to me. He was the best man at my wedding,” said Mark who described Pierre as a mentor, confidante and advisor.
Before getting involved in the field of journalism, Mr Pierre was involved in general merchandising business, and among positions, served as an early Executive Member of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a Director at George F Huggins. He was also involved in the work of Rotary and served as president from 1 July 1976 to 30 June 1977, and as a former Chief Commission of the Scout Association of Grenada.
Mr. Pierre, who was also one of the founders of Press Association of Grenada, which is now known as the Media Workers Association of Grenada, died on Sunday at the General Hospital at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife Clytie; three sons – Michael, Roger and Derek, and many grandchildren.