Permit me to express sentiments that only I could share with you since they are solely my reaction to the situation at hand. In my estimation, the late Executive Chairman of the former Guyana Fisheries Ltd., Mr. Robert Williams was a true Guyanese Patriot. Regardless of the various definitions of what constitutes patriotism, it is undeniable that the man I knew deserves a “perfect salute” as he passes on.
What makes the man a “True Patriot?” Perhaps a great number of things but above them all was his genuine concern for his nation and the natives he loved so dearly. Throughout the years I had known the man he never displayed any rancor against a single fellow Guyanese.
It was February of 1982 when I first met Minister of Fisheries, Robert Williams, a former police constable who President Forbes Burnham considered competent enough to hold a ministerial portfolio. Initially as a Fisheries Officer, Minister Williams and I developed a rapport that caused him to recruit me over to Guyana Fisheries Ltd. as the Fleet Manager for the (18) shrimp trawlers the corporation owned at that time. Eventually, as a result of very demanding work on the part of other colleagues and expatriate consultants, Robert Williams chartered new waters battling the rigors of satisfying an IDB grant to purchase thirty-three (33) shrimp trawlers from Bender Shipbuilders Company, Inc., in Mobile, Alabama, USA.
That new fleet of vessels became my responsibility under Chairman Williams as my functional superior. Robert Williams and I worked with a great support team of other patriots like Ms. Hyacinth Jordan, AA, to make the fish “Banga Mary” available to the public at a price of then one dollar ($1.00) per pound. However, the most outstanding patriotic display Robert performed was when he agreed to let me team up with two vessels belonging to the American-owned company Georgetown Seafoods Ltd., along with two more from Guyana Fisheries Ltd. Accompanied by armed personnel from the Marine Corp. of the Guyana Defence Force, the exercise was to “round up” seven (7) Korean owned vessels that were illegally shrimping in Guyana’ Exclusive Economic Zone of our territorial waters.
It was a life threatening exercise at that time, and it is only ironic that at the time of Robert William’s passing on, that piracy on the high seas is once again a part of the news headlines in Guyana, Robert must have been agonizing at this state of affairs he considered to be despicable.
As I reflect on the man, I recall the morning of August 06, 1985 at around 10:00 a.m. when I was standing at the left side of his desk and he answered the phone directly, by-passing the secretary. When the conversation over the phone ended, Mr. Robert Williams turned to me and said “Neil. The Chief died earlier today at the Georgetown Hospital.” That was one of the most memorable moments I shared closely with him. Mr. Robert Williams, was many things but above them all he was a Guyanese Patriot, and when a True Patriot passes on, he deserves nothing less than a perfect salute.
Robert my friend, I salute you, from a distance!
Neilson O. Wray
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