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  Tom Adams

 

When he died in March 1985, at the relatively young age of 53, Tom Adams was already considered to be among the more brilliant Caribbean leaders of his time.
Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister George Chambers, in paying to tribute to his Barbados counterpart, noted then that "we have lost a man of force, personality and importance at a critical juncture in the history of the Caribbean."

When he died in March 1985, at the relatively young age of 53, Tom Adams was already considered to be among the more brilliant Caribbean leaders of his time.

Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister George Chambers, in paying to tribute to his Barbados counterpart, noted then that "we have lost a man of force, personality and importance at a critical juncture in the history of the Caribbean."

John Michael Geoffrey Manningham "Tom" Adams was articulate with a strong inclination to classical and literary pursuits, his aptitude for which was generally recognised by everyone who came into contact with him officially or otherwise.

He was a strong-willed person, holding to his belief and ideals with a tenacity which at times was little short of obstinacy, but was nevertheless always prepared to discuss or debate in a constructive fashion any position which he assumed.

Chambers remembered Adams as being "popular and highly regarded in his own country, in Caricom and in the Commonwealth.

In the international sphere, he appeared to be happiest and at his best when weighty issues were being discussed - whether these were Caribbean in origin or involved in the broader issues of world politics and economics.

But while these issues would help propel Tom Adams onto the international stage, it was nonetheless his interest in the Caribbean as a united unit that gained his full attention.

He will be most remembered in the region for the role he played in getting United States troops to participate in the overthrow of the leftwing government in Grenada after that country's populist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop had been overthrown and killed in a coup in 1983.

Bishop himself had come to power by the bullet rather than by the ballot, a situation which Adams and other regional leaders, most notably Dominica's Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles, had great difficult coming to grips with.

Adams took the lead in forming an Eastern Caribbean Security alliance in 1982 and, in the aftermath of the Grenada invasion, had proposed a single regional army to prevent the violent takeover of Caribbean governments. But his regional opponents criticised the move as "militarisation" of the region.

In 1979, Adams sent members of the Barbados Defence Force to Union Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to quell a short-lived rebellion by a group of young people.

In delivering the Eulogy at his funeral, Dean Harold Crichlow of the Anglican Church in Barbados noted that "He (Adams) believed that the Westminster style of democracy with the freedoms enjoyed by individuals within the context of the well-being of the total society, so social democracy-as it is called – offered the best opportunities for good life."

"He had the courage to face world criticism in support of a cause which he believed threatened world peace," Crichlow said.

The son of the Sir Grantley Adams, one of the architects of West Indian Federation, Tom Adams was Prime Minister of Barbados from 1976 until his death of a heart attack in 1985.

His victory broke the Democratic Labour Party’s 15-year hold on Government.

Born September 24, 1931, politics was never a distant issue for Tom Adams. Like his father, he had always possessed a wider vision of the West Indies and, after graduating from Oxford University in Britain with a Masters Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, the lawyer who was called to the British Bar in 1965, devoted most of his life to improving upon the social, economic and political well being of the people of Barbados.

Before his return to Barbados, Adams had worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), an exposure which served him well on his entry into politics, serving as Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) until his death.

He was elected to Parliament in 1966, the year Barbados became independent and in 1971 he became Leader of the Opposition.

His skill in parliamentary debate would always be in evidence, but particularly so during his period as Prime Minister.

Adams possessed an intellect that combined critical sharpness with an accurate memory. Few words and little time were necessary for him to fully comprehend the purport of what he was being told and would then bring his own knowledge and experience to bear on the particular issue under consideration.

In an autobiographical sketch, Adams listed watching and reading about cricket as his favourite hobby along with philately and gardening. He was survived by his wife Genevieve and his two sons, Douglas and Rawdon.

 
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