By anguillian November 27, 2017 12:04 Updated




Today, we gather to celebrate the life of Mr. Franklin Benjamin Connor, OBE born to Lilian Connor of Blowing Point, on March 17th 1947.
While the rest of the world will mostly remember him for the lofty titles he held: Financial Secretary, Deputy Governor, Acting Governor, Speaker of the House, Teacher, and Permanent Secretary, those of us who truly knew and loved him recall other, more important titles: Father, Husband, Grandfather, Advisor, Mentor and Friend.
His résumé simply does not do justice to the giant of a man which he was.
I knew him first as my neighbor, then as a father-figure who, as the years unfolded, turned into a mentor, and a great inspiration. I recall moving to Little Harbor from South Hill when I was about nine. One morning, Lans came over with a pair of goats trailing behind him and stated matter-of-factly, “my father say these two goats is fuh ah you.”
I’m older and wiser now. I can appreciate what that gesture meant to a new neighbour in the West Indies. It was a display of the generosity of Frankie’s character, welcoming us not just to the neighbourhood, but to the fold. With the offering of those two goats began a lifelong connection to Frankie and his entire family. Ultimately, we viewed our family homes as extensions of one another’s. The doors were never closed.
From early on in my relationship with him, one of Frankie’s defining traits was already on display – I speak of his intellectual ability. He always had a brilliant mind, perpetually showcasing his academic aptitude, so much so that because of high marks in primary school, members in the community raised money to buy him a bicycle so that he could ride from Blowing Point to The Valley in order to attend the Valley Secondary School. Upon graduation from secondary school, Frankie went on to teach. As a matter of fact, he left the school as a student one Friday afternoon and returned as teacher on the following Monday morning. Frankie was a scholar. Subsequently, he went on to Antigua for formal training as an educator. Upon his return, he continued teaching for a few more years before leaving the island to attend the University of the West Indies. Following graduation, he came home to Anguilla to make his contribution to the public service.
It was there that he met the love of his life: Miss Sylvanie Hodge, of West End. They married in 1969, a union which bore three children: Therese (of blessed memory), Lanston, and Leric. Believe it or not, Lans was born on his father’s birthday.
Frankie was a pillar of effectiveness in both his personal and professional life. It is no surprise that his career was marked by his ascension through the Anguilla Public Service. He is known both in Anguilla and far from our shores for his legendary clarity of thought and influence on matters of policy. As it happens, I recall participating in a video conference with the ECCB regarding the banking crisis when the then-Governor of Central Bank, the late Sir Dwight K. Venner, named mentioned Frankie’s name. Twenty years after the fact, yet Frankie is still being remembered for the fierce advocate he was in support of our nation.
The impulse to support was something that seemed innate in Frankie. He put his utmost into everything he did professionally, but ultimately, family was of paramount importance to Frankie and not a day passed by where I did not feel welcome in that family. More than simply feeling welcome, I felt like I was one of his sons. Admittedly, I was a bit envious of Lans and Leric at times. Frankie seemed to know exactly how to do everything a young boy wanted a father to do. Whether it was fishing, sailing, driving, auto-mechanics, or math homework, there seemed to be no limit to what Frankie could accomplish or the knowledge and skill which he could impart. To me, he knew everything and his capabilities were endless; Frankie filled a void during my formative years that I didn’t even know needed occupation.
Preparing these words is an honour, so I went to the house just like I used to as a boy. I sought to ask Sylvanie what she wanted the world to remember about Frankie, but it was the wrong the question. I should have asked her what she wants to remember most about Frankie. She isn’t interested in wanting to the world to know anything about Frankie. What matters to Sylvanie, what she will hold dear to her in the space where her husband once was, is that Franklin Benjamin Connor, the man she knew and loved through the years, the love of her life, the father of children, was the kindest, gentlest soul to her.
She recalled how much fun they had, the intricacies of their union giving way to the simplicity of just being together and playing, of all things, a game called Upwords, the premise of which lies in building words on those put down by the other player. Building is just what Frankie and Sylvanie did. They built first the things expected of a young couple– a home, a family, a life—and then a love that could be sustained through being in each other’s company, playing a word game, or travelling. I especially remember them travelling because whenever they travelled when I was young, they brought back gifts for the children…which sneakily meant that they brought back gifts for me, too. Whether it was a book, a video game, or a remote-control car: if Lans or Leric had it, that meant I had it, too. That is how we lived.
Of course they had their ups and downs, like any other couple. Lans’ graduation from college, the launching of each new boat, the birth of several grandchildren – these were some of the highs. All this was tempered by the striking fragility of life through the loss of Therese, their first born and only daughter, some seven years ago.
Sylvanie, as I was driving away from the house the other day, I wondered out loud in the solitude of my car how you did it. How you do it. Through the tumultuous sea of life, the tempests and the squalls, you have held your head high, you’ve maintained a steadfast hand, stayed the course. Some of these things would have broken a lesser woman yet you remain as dignified as ever.
I loved Frankie, too. He always had time for me. I will always value our conversations about everything under the sun. Frankie never once chased me, no matter what he was doing; it was as if he knew I needed him. Again, I am older and wiser now. I can appreciate what it means to have a hard day at work, return home and want that time to decompress. The last thing he probably wanted to do after a long day was engage with the insatiable young boy next-door, yet Frankie did not chase me. Frankie didn’t just have time for me; he had time for everybody. I can recall memories of a never-ending stream of visitors from all walks of life coming to the house to seek his counsel on all manners of things.
When he wasn’t around to talk, I got lost in Frankie’s library. I would spend hours going through his books. Books about accounting, finance, economics, public policy; things I didn’t understand. But if they were good for Frankie, then they had to better for me. I wanted to be like him; I wanted to read what he read, I wanted to study what he studied. And so I did. Frankie’s influence on me is a large part of what I have managed to accomplish academically and professionally.
And so, Frankie’s legacy is not just words on his résumé. His legacy is the lives which he touched; his legacy is his fierce advocacy on behalf of Anguilla; his legacy is his family who will continue to uphold his honour.
On August 25th 2017, Mr. Franklin Benjamin Connor quietly departed this world.
May his soul rest in peace.

By anguillian November 27, 2017 12:04 Updated


Latest Poll

Do you like the new layout of the Anguillian ?