REMEMBRANCE OF FRANKIE CONNOR: (Christian Fellowship Church. Nov. 17, 2017)

anguillian
By anguillian November 27, 2017 12:01 Updated

 

 

 

I consider it an honor To be able to give this tribute. Before doing so I again extend my deepest condolences to Sylvanie and all the family. I believe and trust that your own walk of faith, your remarkable character and the love that surrounds you will all come together to support you through this difficult time.

In his eulogy over the murdered body of Julius Ceasar in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Mark Anthony utters the well known truism, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Ceasar”. To speak good or ill of someone who has left us is a simple choice. It is most likely that in our choosing we are influenced by our own experience and interactions with the deceased in their walk with us. It is personal and even private. But there are lives of significance that transcend our narrow vision. Lives that influenced our own without our even knowing it. Lives that impacted a whole community through their talent and contribution. Lives whose good must never be buried with their bones as we move on.
It is in this sense that I chose to remember Frankie and pay tribute to his memory and to a time when to use Shakespeare again “he strode our narrow world like a colossus”.
There was a time not so long ago, when the dream of building a new Anguilla was as fresh as a morning dew. A time when the rage of revolution had subsided and the reality of building a new Government and institutions of Governance had set in. A time when our homes were still lit by tilly lamps, our roads still rough and dusty and the services of Government were minimal to non-existent. It was a time when British technocrats were needed to run the government, when a brand new Radio Anguilla was in a dusty corner of a derelict section of the Agricultural Station and Cable & Wireless was in the back of a truck. But it was also a time of hope and expectation. Hope that now that we had wrested the direction of our future from the hands of others, that a new age had begun for our island home. And indeed it had. It is in this milieu that Franklyn Connor first made his mark. As the Revolutionary Leaders pondered the task of nation building, the cold reality for the need to train Anguillians in the arts of Government had set in. They themselves to their credit, understood that their own skills as merchants, sailors, electricians and subsistence farmers was insufficient to the task of building a new administration. It was a time when a shipwright was the Comptroller of Customs and a Minister of Religion ran the Treasury.
To deal with this reality and with the help of British Government, the first tranche of Anguillian students to be trained in governance was sent off to the U.W.I . They were Mr. Colville Petty, the late Clive Carty and Frankie. They were to be the first seeds of a brand new civil service trained in Management and Policy Development. It was in this setting as part of the second wave of trainees sent to UWI that I first met Frankie. He was in his final year I was in my first. I will be forever grateful to him for helping me to grasp the basics of a required course in statistics. Never good at math and with a literary mind that had great difficulty in understanding how X could equal Y, he rescued me from that dungeon of numbers allowing me to pursue my other courses in peace. But it was in the dialogue and argument in which we all often engaged , sometimes in anger, always with passion regarding philosophy, history and especially Anguilla’s socio economic and political condition that I came to understand and respect Frankie’s ability to be articulate, direct, incisive, analytical and very persuasive. These qualities along with his natural ability to laugh and tell humorous stories served him well in his meteoric rise in the Anguilla public service. Although his abilities with numbers is well known, it was also his vision for what could be that made a lasting impression and legacy.

Few of us remember today that what is now Cap Juluca was in many ways a demonstration project of what an up market five star hotel sector could look like. Few of us even care to remember that all the land on which that hotel stands was once private property owned by non- Anguillians. It was here that the then Government led by Sir Emile Gumbs took a giant step to pull the trigger on starting the industry we are so proud of today. To do so these private lands had to be bought back by Government which at that time did not even have the resources to cover the salaries of its public servants. The delicate negotiations to persuade the British Government to fund the acquisition of these lands owes an enormous debt to Frankie. In many ways he was the de facto Minister of Finance, who along with Sir Emile became a deadly tag team in negotiating with the British. Sir Emile would first soften up the British with his stories and easy going style and then tag Frankie to come in for the kill. Time and time again the broad financial needs of Anguilla were obtained by his skillful arguments and command of figures in support of Government policy.
His remarkable public service career which placed him in various roles of enormous influence, from Finance Secretary to ex Officio member of the House of Assembly and Executive Council, to Speaker and incredibly for those days Acting Governor, made Frankie in reality at that time the most powerful man in Anguilla . But his contribution here was not about or for power, but about a vision for a new Anguilla and how the hope and expectations of the revolution could be managed and developed in a professional way. His ability and willingness to teach and guide even ministers in the duties of their office was well known and I believe appreciated. Succinctly, in the words of Bob Rogers, one of the few original revolutionaries still with us, “what Ronald was to politics and the late Albert Lake was to business, Frankie was to governance and administration”. That says it all.

In the humility wrought upon us by the recent storm when we have been reminded how to draw water and bathe in a bucket, it is to be hoped that we have all in some way reflected on the path of development which we and those before us have walked on these past 50 years. As we move into the future, we stand on the shoulders of giants, who, we can only hope in their own imperfect ways pointed us to the way forward. Frankie was one of them. Funeral services are never really about the dead, they are about the living, and they provide us with a moment of reflection on the life of one to whom we say farewell. In this time of hard yet hopeful reconstruction in which visionary leadership at every level is required, Frankie’s life is one of unique example. Whatever triumphs and defeats he may have encountered and endured are there for us to see and ponder. We can choose to learn and not to judge; to remember and not forget. The simple choice is ours. As for me, I can only give thanks that I walked with him a little way and end this tribute again with Shakespeare.
“ Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight sweet Prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.

anguillian
By anguillian November 27, 2017 12:01 Updated

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