Mr. Fitzgerald Alexander Griffith, who served for many years in both the private and public sectors, died on Thursday at the Georgetown Public Hospital. He was 84.
The last official position Mr. Griffith held was that of Executive Chairman of the Guyana National Trading Corporation (GNTC), which was a state enterprise falling under the administration of Guyana State Corporation (GUYSTAC).
A colleague wrote, “His working life exemplified the ability of an individual to start at the bottom of the ladder, and through dedication, hard work, commitment and a desire to achieve, climb the ladder to the top.”
As a young man, Fitz Gfriffith started his first job at Sandbach Parker and Company on the wharf in Water Street as a tally clerk. He held several positions as he climbed the corporate ladder: Supervisor, Assistant Manager, Manager, Divisional Manager, Director, and Managing Director of the Shipping and Wharf Division.
When Sandbach Parker and Company was nationalised in 1975, it came under a new state entity – the GNTC (Guyana National Trading Corporation), with Mr. Noel Gonsalves as the Executive Chairman. During that time, other companies were also nationalised.
These included Guyana Gajraj Limited, which became the Automotive Division of GNTC; Guyana Wreford’s Limited – redesignated Berbice Division of GNTC. The External Trade Bureau was also placed under GNTC and was renamed Outlet Division of GNTC.
At the same time, as the expansion of GNTC continued, other divisions were established, including the Engineering and Agricultural Division; the Hardware Division; and a Shipping and Wharf Division, including Airline Travel.
In the restructuring of GNTC, two Executive Directors were appointed, one of whom was Mr. Griffith.
Under the administration of Mr. Gonsalves, GNTC became a very large state entity with its wide range of responsibility for the provision of goods and services at a time when foreign exchange was difficult to obtain.
Following the resignation of Mr. Gonsalves, who migrated to the United States, Mr. Griffith was appointed Executive Chairman in the early 80s. Mr. Griffith retained that position during the Burnham Administration. After Mr. D. Hoyte became President following the death of Mr. Burnham, there was a wind of change with the structural adjustment programme.
The process of divestment was started, and GNTC was divested in 1991. Mr. Griffith stayed on for the finalization of arrangements until 1992, when he formally retired.
Mr. Griffith’s knowledge in the shipping industry, which he represented at international fora, was well known and acknowledged. He was regarded by his managerial colleagues and the general staff of GNTC as an approachable person who was open minded, fun loving, kind, caring and considerate.
He was also seen as a disciplinarian who enforced rules and paid a personal leading role in the training and development of staff.
He had a good sense of humour and got on well with all levels of staff. He was a religious person and served on the Anglican Diocese for many years, serving as Lay Preacher of Christ Church.
Staff members of GNTC would recall his love for music and his elegant dancing as he opened the floor at parties.
Mr. ‘Fitz’ Griffith received the Golden Arrow of Achievement (AA) in 1989, in recognition of his long and dedicated service to Guyana.
Details of his funeral are to be announced later.
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