By Gemma Handy
Tributes have poured in from the Barbudan community for a “mountain of a man” who played a key role in island life until shortly before his death yesterday morning.
Jerome Harper – affectionately known as ‘Dull-Dull’ – died in Mount St John’s Hospital after suffering a stroke a week ago. He was 62.
Harper was flown to Antigua from the sister island on a private plane owned by a family friend after being found ill at his Codrington home on May 9.
“Dad was a mountain of a man; he had a personality that meant once you met him you would never forget him,” his son, former senator Adrian Lee, told Observer.
“He was very personable and was always giving a piece of advice to make you feel better or want to do better.
“I wasn’t the calmest kid,” he recalled with a smile. “I could go from zero to 60 in two seconds and he always used to tell me, in all you do, remember how, when and why – and react wisely. It took me years to understand that.”
Harper was a fisherman and painter by profession, and a keen sailor too. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
Paul Nedd, secretary of the Barbuda Council, said the loss would be deeply felt by Harper’s fellow islanders.
“He was a community man, a spirited man, always present whenever there was a political meeting. He was a supporter of the BPM; he would often share his views and was very diverse in his thinking,” Nedd said.
“On regular occasions we would sit in the morning to talk about how things were.”
Nedd said Harper was found unwell at his home after villagers became concerned that they had not seen him for the day.
“The property was locked up and we couldn’t see much but we realised he was inside and not responsive so we had to knock the door down. He was in there convulsing from a stroke,” he explained.
Nedd said Harper had suffered from health issues in recent years which had been “a challenge” for him.
An ambulance was called but it soon became evident Harper needed additional treatment.
Local businessman Derek Barrett, a friend of Lee’s, was called for help and sent his private plane to bring Harper to Antigua.
Barrett told Observer his plane had been used on several previous occasions for medical evacuations and he was happy to help out.