He is gone, but he certainly will be remembered by many as an ardent advocate for press freedom, as well as a son of this soil who genuinely exhibited a passion for social justice.
David Francis de Caires, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Stabroek News, quietly departed this life on November 1last, while at a hospital in Barbados; and a memorial service was held on Friday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam.
The service attracted scores of sympathisers, who were drawn from the various sections of society. There were several ministers of the Government, members of the People’s Progressive Party Civic and the People’s National Congress Reform, Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and members of the business community.
Publisher of Kaieteur News, Mr Glenn Lall, who also attended the service on Friday, in an invited comment, said: “For me life is a game, and David de Caires has played that game superbly. He has left the game with a winning spirit,” Lall noted.
Adding to Lall’s expression, Kaieteur News’s Editor-in-Chief, Mr Adam Harris, pointed out that, “He (David de Caires) was brave enough to stand up to anyone who challenged freedom of the press, from Presidents right down, and I only hope that others will carry on where he left off.”
At the memorial service, the life and work of the freedom fighter was eloquently captured in a eulogy presented by his long time friend Miles Fitzpatrick.
According to Fitzpatrick, de Caires possessed an unrelenting commitment to social justice, even as he pointed out that de Caires’s mission would find legacy in the national newspapers (Stabroek News) he founded.
In his reflections, Fitzpatrick disclosed that, in addition to being a practising lawyer, de Caires also had an enthusiasm for politics, a passion which would later see him becoming a founding member of The United Force political party.
Fitzpatrick recounted, though, that it was de Caires’s trademark fearlessness in the fight for social justice which was aptly demonstrated as early as 1968 during a Radio Demerara broadcast to announce that the election results of that year were rigged.
It was, however, his newspaper’s entrance into the tense Guyanese society that would withstand the test of time.
According to Fitzpatrick, de Caires’s principles and activism later found expression in the Stabroek News, which sought to create an avenue for expression through the publication of letters ranging from humble to radical.
It was also the intent of de Caires that the newspapers uphold the tradition of being a paper of record with an emphasis on accuracy and fairness, Fitzpatrick said.
Fitting tributes were also offered by family members, among others, who reflected fondly on the life of de Caires.
At the time of his death, de Caires was still very committed to his role at the media house when he fell severely ill last August.
Reports had reached this newspaper that de Caires had been hospitalised at a city hospital after he had collapsed at his 239 Quamina Street, South Cummingsburg home.
According to reports, he was rushed to the hospital with a suspected heart attack, and he reportedly remained there until efforts were made to transfer him to the hospital in Barbados, where he subsequently died.
He was cremated in Barbados, and his ashes were brought back here in order to facilitate the memorial service.
De Caires, who was 70 at the time of his death, is survived by his wife, Doreen de Caires, and his children.
The renowned de Caires, interestingly enough, came into this world on the last day of December 1937, and exited on the beginning of the month of November 2008, having lived the Biblically recommended period of three scores and ten years (70).
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