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26 December 2020

So Brent Johnson and his wife  Eulona are dead.  Sometime around 6 p.m. on Christmas Day, their lives ended in a car crash. Some say it was a drunk driver who crashed into them and brought their lives to an end. Senator Fred Mitchell issued this personal statement:

I met Brent Johnson by pure chance in the spring of 1988 when I was a substitute teacher at the College of The Bahamas, filling in for their lecturer my late friend Felix Bethel who had gone to Canada on leave to pursue his PhD D.  It was one term. I taught Government and Politics. Among those in the class Michael Halkitis, Raynard Rigby, Tyrone Fitzgerald Jr, Sidney Isaacs and of course Brent Johnson amongst many others. The company in which you see he found himself, should tell you that you are dealing with a high flier.

That was one term and I didn’t see him but on fleeting occasions after that.  He was the son of my friend Samuel “ Bookie ” Johnson, who was a politician of some note and whom I met and been welcomed into the state of Ohio where I was a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio some ten miles away from his university Central State way back in 1970.

Brent had his father’s personality, beside looking just like him.  He had boundless energy, humour and enthusiasm.  He was bright and able. He was not going to be an academic or a politician.  He had a knack and love for business. So when I really met him again after a while, he was just that a businessman.  He had his own family.  His girls  survived the accident so far but are hospitalized.  He was now intensely interested in public policy and how public policy could help his business be successful. I have no doubt that had he lived, this was another Sir Franklin Wilson in the making.  Sadly this is not to be.

Earlier in the week on 22 December 2020, my friend Ma Gwen Clarke of Fox Hill left us of natural causes. She was 106 years old.  She wanted to go. When I spoke to her birthday party in February of this year and wished her many many more, she nodded her head and said audibly, please do not wish me that, I am ready to go.  She told her family that all her friends were gone and it was only she alone left to ponder day by day.

She was particularly close to her grandson in law a retired police sergeant who had died suddenly some weeks before.  When he died, her family noticed that her demeanor changed. She wanted to go she said. She is gone.

Most of us don’t get to choose when  we get to go.  We know not the time , the day nor the hour.  We just know that  when death comes, it leaves our homes lonely and drear. Then as the songwriter says, we wonder, why others prosper living so wicked year after year.

I contrast those two deaths to recall a thought I share at the homegoing services of young men whose lives have been snuffed out at 18, 19 or younger over foolishness.  Ma Gwen had 106 years of joy and laughter and successes and no doubt some sad times but over all good times.

Brent lived to be in his forties or early fifties I would guess. He had a lot more to do but I have  no doubt that as he progressed through this life he had a wonderful time. Let us hope that his two daughters survive and that we will be able to say to them what a wonderful Dad and Mom they had.

I say to the friends of these teenagers who survive the fights to the death, look what you are missing when you contrast it to those who have lived longer lives.

The death of Brent is a loss to our country.  I would say a great loss, another middle aged man, just in his stride, the repository of the past and the plotter of the future. Now, alas now, the wind passes over and the place whereof knows it no more.

God bless you Brent for that happy three months I spent with you and all your classmates in the spring of 1988  at the now University of The Bahamas and for everything else that followed. Our country is richer for your having lived amongst us.

Rest in peace.