Thousands of nationals from all walks of life gave tributes and final farewells to Dr. Sir Prince Harold K. Ramsey who was laid to rest yesterday.
The official funeral with full military honours took place at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine and was attended by Governor General Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Williams; Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his wife, Works and Housing Minister Maria Browne; other Cabinet members including Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, Sir Robin Yearwood.
The Cathedral was filled to capacity, with those paying respects and celebrating Sir Prince’s life pressed to find even standing room. During the ceremony, many adjectives were used to describe the rich life of the medical practitioner who attained legendary status as Antigua and Barbuda’s Clinical Care Coordinator for HIV/AIDS and a host of other designations. Patsy Ramsay, who paid tribute on behalf of the staff at Sir Prince’s medical practice, was the first to tell the congregation about a man she described as her best friend and the second father of her children.
“I have known Prince almost for my whole lifetime. His dad and my dad were friends and I recall many visits to their home at Willikies. It wasn’t until he returned to Antigua that our friendship grew into something special and he became my bestfriend and my confidant. I introduced him to my husband who turned out to be just as good of a friend also.”
More fond memories were shared by the Medical Association, Dr. George Roberts on behalf of the Domino Club, Justice of Appeal Murrio D. Ducille and Dr. Selwyn Rocke, his close friend. Tributes were also given in the form of song on the piano and by voice from family members and veteran calypsonians, including former monarch Keithroy “De Bear” Morson, as Sir Prince was a highly respected calypso writer.
The eulogy of the pioneer in the medical field was given by his best friend of more than 40 years, Bernard Percival. Percival said from an early age Sir Prince knew that medicine was to be his calling and Antigua and Barbuda would remain his paradise.
“Prince loved science. He could dream of becoming a doctor because he was aware that other Antiguans who had gone to study abroad had returned to a profession that appeared to be high paying and offered status and other [incentives] to those who climb to those ranks. To Prince, that was secondary and probably was the icing on the cake. He loved people and wanted to help people.”
Prime Minister Gaston Browne remembered many contributions made by Sir Prince to the nation in a written tribute. “Dr. Prince Ramsey, three decades ago, when HIV/AIDS threatened to disrupt civilization – and to render us fearful of each other – was able to calm the fears which gripped large numbers of our people. He achieved by example. He brought panic to an end. Dr. Ramsey treated patients at no cost and led the effort throughout the Caribbean to reduce suffering and death from this dreadful disease.”
In addition to his work in HIV/AIDS and the medical field, Sir Prince was a volunteer medical officer, lecturer, and examiner for the Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance Society. He was also a past President of the Antigua and Barbuda Medical Association and former Treasurer of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians.
He was Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Planned Parenthood Association; a board member of the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Sir Prince was also the recipient of three National awards: The Order of Merit, The Order of Distinction, and The Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation. The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) in 2012 bestowed him with “The Order of Excellence” for his contribution to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.