The funeral service for veteran Vincentian broadcaster Evans Bernard John is scheduled for Sept. 21, at the Kingstown Methodist Church in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, according to his sister, Celia Bramble, a retired Registered Nurse in Brooklyn.
John, popularly known as “E.B.”, was found dead at his home in Evesham in the Marriaqua Valley in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on Aug. 19, said Bramble, also retired US Army Reserve Colonel and former Associate Executive Director of Training and Organizational Development at the sprawling Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. John was 69.
Bramble told Caribbean Life on Monday that tributes will begin at Kingstown Methodist Church on Sept. 21, at 2:00 p.m., and the funeral service will follow at 3:00 p.m.
Immediately afterwards, John will be interred at the Kingstown Cemetery, Bramble said.
She said her younger brother was visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines on vacation, from Toronto, Canada, where he resided, when he was found dead in his Vincentian home.
John was a former general manager of the National Broadcasting Corporation (705 FM Radio) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, from 1987 to 1997; ex-Consul General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Canada; and erstwhile Chief Liaison Officer for the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Farm Workers Program in Canada.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my brother,” Bramble said. “I am also comforted in knowing that he lived a remarkable life – a life of love and kindness, a life of courage and compassion, a life of humor and inspiration.
“We must remember, all of us must remember, that E.B. has died, but more importantly, he has lived,” she added. “His sterling qualities and great works live on. He has left us with an incredible model of how to live, and laugh and love.”
Sandra John, another elder sister, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago, told Caribbean Life that “St Vincent and the Grenadines is mourning the loss of a beloved icon of the radio broadcast industry.”
“But, to the many persons that knew and loved him, Evans Bernard John, or E.B., as he was affectionately known, from Mar. 13, 1951 to Aug.19, 2020, was so much more – diplomat, regional public servant, community activist, cultural ambassador, sports enthusiast, calypsonian, mentor, family man and friend,” Sandra said.
At the time of his death, she said her brother was working on his memoirs, “describing his effort as ‘an attempt to deal with the dash (-)’, connecting the date of his birth to the date of his passing.”
Sandra said that John started his working life of public service in 1969 as a junior clerk at the Treasury Department in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
After short stints in various departments, he ended up in the Public Relations/Information Service Department, “a move which would ultimately define him,” Sandra said.
She said John remained in the media-related field in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for over two decades.
In 1972, Sandra said he joined the state-owned radio station, which became the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio, as an announcer. NBC was, at the time, the lone radio station in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
By the time of John’s resignation in 1997, he was general manager of NBC, Sandra said.
During his time there, she said he hosted the popular Saturday night program, “Hot Spot”, and “was credited by one of his colleagues with making NBC a household name.”
After retiring from NBC, Sandra said John was invited to be a part of an emerging radio station, WE FM, and later launched his own public relations company.
In 2001, John was appointed St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Consul General in Canada, where one of his first initiatives was the launch of a program, “Building Bridges”, among various Vincentian organizations in that country, Sandra said.
After that assignment, she said John was appointed by the St. Lucia-based OECS Secretariat as Liaison Officer for the Seasonal Farm Workers Program for OECS farm workers on Canadian farms.
In addition, Sandra said John had “a distinguished paramilitary career.”
He joined the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Corps while a student at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Grammar School, an elite secondary school, rising to the rank of commandant.
John was subsequently appointed Aide de Camp (ADC) to the Head of State, Sir Rupert John, his uncle and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ first Governor General, and was later appointed commandant of the Auxiliary Police Force.
Sandra said her brother was also very active in community service. He was a member and subsequent president of the Lions Club South, and Zone Chairman of Lions Clubs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.
She said John was very active at local cultural events, hosting many editions of the annual Miss Caraval pageant.
Additionally, she said he was “a much-sought-after” MC at many cultural events, and was “a passionate advocate for local music and musicians,” Sandra said.
“Indeed, he fancied himself quite the calypsonian, having written and performed ‘The Handbag’, essentially a list of unlikely objects that could be found in a lady’s purse,” Sandra said.
Carlos “Rejector” Providence – a former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Monarch and incumbent president of the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America – told Caribbean Life that he was “indeed saddened” by John’s passing.
He said John was “an inspiration to me for many years and one of my most ardent supporters in my calypso career.
“He was also MC in the On Tour Calypso Tent (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines) for a number of years during my tenure as leader, and rose to prominence as an outstanding singer/performer of my compositions during that time,” said Providence in his brief tribute.
Besides Sandra and Celia, John is survived by his wife of 30 years, Shelley, and their children, Kelcy and Brandon, who all reside in Canada; two other sisters, Ercelle, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Wendy, in Alberta, Canada; and many other relatives and friends.