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,
"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
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
"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
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
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.