Tribute by Dr Winston Thomas who passed away on 27 July 2019 and whose funeral service was held at the St George’s Anglican Church on 23 August 2019.
To borrow from the apt words of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity…The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what’s important.”
These words capture the philosophy and life of our dear departed friend, revolutionary brother and comrade, Dr Winston “Tommy” Thomas – a selfless and hardworking patriot, especially committed to the cause of the poor and suffering, who always put service above self in his ongoing life’s mission to build a new and just society
The Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation (GREMFO) joins with the multiplicity of other organisations in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of this focused, disciplined and undisputed people’s doctor, gone much too soon, but who has left his unmistakable footprints in the sands of time.
Played leading role
Dr Winston Thomas has been an integral part of the life of GREMFO, formally incorporated in 2014 to promote and preserve the positive aspects of the 13 March 1979 Revolution, learning from its failures and embracing its successes; to encourage objective and balanced debate about this very significant part of Grenada’s history; and to foster reconciliation among our people
Indeed, for more than 25 years Dr Thomas, a beneficiary of one of the hundreds of scholarships to study in Cuba during the Revolution, has played a leading role to mark this important period of Grenada’s history.
In 1994, Dr Thomas was part of the then team organising the 15th Anniversary of the Grenada Revolution with activities throughout the country, under the theme “March 13th Is Our History”. He was involved in planning and executing the several events which included a major Health Fair in Sauteurs; community projects throughout the island, including the cleaning of beaches, the painting of schools, and the painting and general brightening up of Sendall Tunnel in the city; radio and TV programmes; a radio quiz; and community educational events.
One remembers, in particular, the massive and impressive health fair at the Sauteurs Health Centre (built by the revolution), during which scores of persons from St Patrick and surrounding areas received free medical attention. Up to that time it was one of the largest health fairs ever staged in that parish, and possibly Grenada. Dr Thomas and his team mobilised several Cuban trained doctors, both specialists and general practitioners – all beneficiaries of scholarships – to give their services free of cost to the Grenadian people. It was a particularly impressive event, spanning from early morning – with people gathering from as early as 4 am – to late night, throughout the day, with the health centre abuzz with activities organised and led by our stalwart doctors Raphael ‘Carib’ John, David Lambert and Winston Thomas. Not only did people benefit from medical services on that day, but several of our specialists made arrangements for attendees to do follow-up visits.
In 2019, 25 years later and just mere months before his untimely passing, Dr Thomas was again a key player in activities to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Revolution. He was a member of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations Committee with direct responsibility for organising the medical component of the activities. Again, he delivered. He himself travelled throughout the country, utilising his vacation leave in March, to beef up medical support at health centres as part of his own contribution towards the 40th-anniversary activities. In true Tommy style, he gave selflessly.
The three People’s Doctors
There are many things in common with the names Raphael ‘Carib’ John, David Lambert and Winston Thomas, all of whom have passed on to the great beyond: they were all beneficiaries of medical scholarships during the revolution; they all gave back selflessly, over and above the call of duty, to the people of Grenada after successfully completing their studies; they all brought hope to people; they all continued to live the ideals of the revolution through their life’s work and service in the medical field and beyond.
GREMFO is already considering for 13 March activities next year the formation of the Dr Raphael John Medical Brigade, the Dr David Lambert Medical Brigade and the Dr Winston Thomas Medial Brigade – three medical brigades named after three outstanding Peoples’ Doctors – each to go into at least one community, for a start, to provide free medical services during the month of March. The legacies of our peoples’ doctors must continue to live on and provide constant inspiration to our professionals to serve humanity well.
Extraordinary human being
Dr Winston Thomas was an extraordinary human being. It is said that no one is indispensable; when you are gone someone else simply replaces you. No doubt a regular doctor can always replace another regular doctor or other professional. But Winston Thomas is irreplaceable, at least not immediately. He was no regular doctor. He comes from a special rare breed where, in the midst of a world predominantly concerned with material wealth, he gave selflessly, concerned less with material wealth, and more with caring for people, keeping them healthy and prolonging and saving their lives.
Apart from his outstanding and selfless service in the medical field, Tommy played a critical role in community and national life, being part of several organisations, political and otherwise.
It is said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy (Dr Martin Luther King Jr). Tommy never abandoned his comrades in their hour of need. He was there in good and bad times, as so many have attested to. He stood for principle. His was a consistent and distinctive voice on TV and Radio stations, engaging in political and social debate; identifying shortcomings and hailing successes; and promoting countless causes. Though firm in his own views, he was always tolerant and respectful to the views of others.
Left the world a better place
GREMFO salutes this simple, humble, extraordinary and selfless human being. Though gone too soon at 59, he has completed much more than a normal life’s quota of work. He has paid more than his debt to humanity. Let his life’s work be an inspiration to others to give more, to help the disadvantaged, to contribute more to the development of the country and region, and, indeed, just simply make the world a better place.
Tommy has certainly left the world a better place. Since his untimely passing, you continue to hear the many stories of persons whom he has assisted, either themselves or their families, rising to the occasion, whether day or night, on duty or off duty. He symbolised sacrifice. He neither blew his trumpet nor compared himself with others.
Be comforted and inspired
To his mom, sons, siblings and other family members – we all share your pain, and we extend to you our deepest sympathy. Be forever comforted, though, that Winston Thomas lived a full, productive and complete life, and has left a legacy that will forever remain etched in the hearts and minds of all whom he touched. Be inspired by the words of the great South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Thank you, Tommy! Yours was a life of richness, not in material terms, but in the enduring sense of your love, care, and compassion for human beings, whatever their station in life. Though gone physically your spirit and memory will continue to live on. Thank you for the countless lives you have touched; thank you for your hard work, commitment and sacrifice: thank you, Tommy, for your service to humanity.
Rest in peace dear brother and comrade!
Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation Inc