THINGS THAT MATTER
“A eulogy (from eulogia, Classical Greek), eu for "true”, logia for "words", together for "praise") is a speech in praise of a person who recently died.”
“The number 101 symbolizes continuity and development in a spiritual sense.”
“The Angel Number – all you need to know – 101 Life – the complete life”. (Notes on the meaning of the number 101)
I’ve just had the honour of paying public tribute to one of the finest men I have ever known – Canon Ivor Jones, long serving priest and teacher, who passed away at the noble age of 101 – often called the Angel number, and commonly used as a title for a book that’s “all you need to know about a subject”. So how appropriate that a man who lived an exemplary and inspiring life should live to the noble age of 101. Here is an edited version of my words of praise, as family friend and admirer. I’ve added excerpts from his wife’s poetic tribute:
“Good Afternoon, family, friends and the many, many admirers of Canon Ivor Jones, whose long and loving life we’re gathered here to celebrate.
The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. I like to add “spiritual well-being”. Some people argue that complete well-being in any of these spheres, far less all of them, is rare. Well Canon Ivor possessed them all and lived them all – to the fullest. He wore them with humility and gratitude to God, and by his beaming good health and happiness he inspired the multitudes he met.
And he did that for more than a hundred years! We celebrated with him his 50 years of unbroken service at Christ Church Parish Church, although he first served here much earlier in 1944 – the year that I was born! He’s been the epitome of the young at heart in mind, body and spirit of all 280 000 souls in Barbados.
Ivor McKinley Jones was born in what I like to call the “central mountain range of Barbados”, in the parish of St. Thomas, to Mr. and Mrs. Prince Jones. His father was Headmaster at Holy Innocents Boys’ School, although I’m not sure that with Ivor’s sense of mischief that HE was an entirely innocent boy. But he had the wonderful good fortune, like Sir Grantley Adams, Sir Courtney Blackman, Sir George Alleyne and so many of the greatest Barbadians of the last century, of being raised in a Christian household, by a teacher father, imbued with the finest spiritual, moral and work ethics possible.
He proceeded to Combermere School and then to Harrison College, where he performed with distinction in the classroom and on the cricket field. From there to Codrington College, where he trained for the priesthood, in a desire to bring the meaning of God to other people.
He had a yearning both to teach and to teach about God, and after graduation he was ordained deacon in 1941, and priest in 1942.
After a period as curate at St. Peter’s Parish Church he moved to Christ Church and here – in this southern republic – he met and married his wife Anna. While they had four children of their own, they “suffered ALL the little children to come unto them”, because Anna ran the famous Jones primary school for most of her life, while Canon Jones taught and ministered to the boys (and later girls) of Harrison College, taught Sunday School and taught the entire flock here in Christ Church!
He had left his mark teaching in Tobago and then had further training as a teacher in Britain and the USA. He also engaged in faith healing, enjoying success and inspiration as a healer. Suffice it to say that Canon Jones was not just the complete man, but practised to perfection nine notable skills: teacher, priest, father, faith healer, counsellor, raconteur, pianist, organist and sportsman.
He was on the tennis courts twice a week well into his nineties, and his energy, serving the ball or serving the people, telling a joke, rebuking those who needed rebuking (always with humour and sympathy), playing the organ at Christmas Carol service or inspiring the wayward forward on Sunday mornings from the pulpit, was always that of a man at his peak – inspired and inspiring others.
Canon Jones had a story or a bible quote – sometimes both - for every occasion, and a wise word, which hit the mark, for every problem. He was a positive thinker and he loved to quote Proverbs 23, verse 7 “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he”.
And his wife Anna, who was a passionate poet, memorialised him beautifully in a poem “The Other – Ivor McKinley Jones”. Here are the key quotes from her poem:
“With a voice like a deep running river, He came suddenly out of the blue
He was gifted and geared, There was no man he feared,
Fulfilling his calling to be a ‘fisher of men’ …
He’d always try to please me, From any pains to ease me,
Whatever the troubles, Whatever the cross,
This optimist, this man, He’d always declare ‘We can’ …
Here we are as we thank ‘The Almighty’ For granting us fifty-five years
We’ve had much more joy than sorrow, And plenty more laughter than tears.”
What a splendid bishop he would have made! As someone said “He was the best bishop we never had!” But how many thousands of young Harrisonians might have been worse off without the powerful impact - pun intended - of this powerful canon?
Canon Ivor received both the OBE and the special award of BCH (Barbados Centennial Honour) while his Anna soon afterwards received the Silver Crown of Merit for her marathon contribution to teaching.
There can be few if any couples in our history here who have worked together - serving, caring, preaching and teaching - to mould the minds and touch the hearts and souls of so many people. Their philosophy was “Love is service”.
We give thanks today for the love, caring, wisdom, inspiration and impact of this magnificent man of God and man of the people - Canon Ivor Jones. May he rest in peace and harmony. Amen
Next Week: More on plastic and some more solutions.
Professor Fraser is Past Dean of Medical Sciences, UWI and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology. Website: profhenryfraser.com