Oct 24, 2021 Letters
By William Cox, Frederick Kissoon and Sheik Isaacs (David)
Colin Smith, the editor of the Catholic Standard, was laid to rest on Friday last. Colin was an extraordinary human being. We, three of his closest friends, would like to extend the tribute, which we paid to him at the Church, to a much wider Guyanese audience.
Colin Smith did not own even a tiny quantity of assets but he was rich beyond one’s wildest imagination – because he was of the finest of values, virtue and purpose. Colin left this life without any serious quantity of material possessions. He took his Jesuit vow of poverty in ways you will find hard to see a replication elsewhere in this world. To describe how Colin eschewed material things would take dozens of letters to the press. He armed himself in life with his goodness and nothing else. Colin was one of the most decent, generous, mild-mannered, humble and sincere persons you can find. His amazing humanity and simplicity were qualities of an upright upbringing and the fact that he was deeply anchored to his Catholic faith.
Here are episodes of the man that tell you who he was. Once there was a massacre on the East Coast of Demerara and he, along with Freddie Kissoon and William Cox went to the scene. The trio was quickly swarmed by a hostile, menacing crowd. William sensed danger and looked desperately for an escape route but when he glanced at Colin, he was his usual self – untroubled and unbothered by the looming threat.
It was with this same collected and nonchalant manner that one day Colin waltzed through the entrance of the Pegasus Hotel to cover a CARICOM Heads of Government Conference and was almost mobbed by the foreign press. He’d been mistaken for the then President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, to whom he held a striking resemblance!
On some Sundays, years ago, the four of us would often go on a lime. We would drive to some location, share a meal and have a good chat. But no matter where we went, after a few hours, Colin would always want to return home, always. He never fussed or fretted but he always said it was time to go home even though the lime was just warming-up.
So, one day we drove to Parika, hired a speedboat and told Colin that a conservancy had collapsed and we were going to investigate. We then headed to Bartica and upon arrival, told the speedboat operator to return in the afternoon. True to form, after a few hours Colin wanted to go home. The only thing was that there was no speedboat around to get him home, and so that time, we got him to spend the entire day liming and “gaffing”.
As editor of the Catholic Standard, he was given information about an arrangement a Cabinet Minister had unilaterally made in Trinidad. Colin was shown the proof so he went to interview the Minister. The Minister flatly denied the story. Colin said he cannot run the story and we insisted. We asked him why, Colin said, “You think a Minister would lie?” That was the nature of the gentleman. He loved and trusted people.
Colin gave his entire life to the local diocese. He had many roles in the Church including as a Catechist and producer of the Catholic Broadcast. But he is best known for his work with the Catholic Standard.
Colin was the workhorse of the Catholic Standard. He was the longest-serving editor and staff member, his involvement dating back to the days when the newspaper was printed on a Gestetner machine.
Thursdays were long days for Colin. Fr. Andrew Morrison would come in at around 4pm with a few stories already written, ready to be typed and prepared for the ‘flats’. Fr. Andy would then sit for hours and work on his editorial. But the rest of the newspaper had to be prepared and it was Colin who spearheaded that task, which began as early as Monday. Without Colin, the newspaper would never have been ready for Friday morning distribution.
When the “Standard” moved to the corner of South Road and Wellington Street, William would often go there to visit Colin. On one such occasion, one of the persons connected to the Board saw William and made an uncomplimentary remark about him going there to “help” Colin. William never went back because he did not wish Colin to be embarrassed on his account. He, however, kept in touch and maintained his long-standing friendship with Colin.
We will miss Colin. He was our dear and trusted friend and someone who we respected and who embodied the finest of human qualities. There was not a bad bone in Colin’s body.
Rest in Peace, Colin!
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