Castries, Saint Lucia: The Caribbean island of Saint Lucia witnessed a major lost after veteran journalist Guy Ellis left for his heavenly abode. Communications Specialist, Embassy of Taiwan in Saint Lucia, Public Relations Officer at Saint Lucia Olympic Committee – Stan Bishop took to social media and expressed pain and grief.
The social media post read:
Although I had read Guy Ellis’ work in The Mirror newspapers for many years, the first time I met him in person was on Thursday, August 29, 2013, on the balcony of his family home at Entrepot. On that evening, my fellow media colleague, Kendal “Scady” Eugene, and I had driven to Ellis’ residence right after class on assignment: we had chosen to interview him for our capstone project.
At the time, Scady and I were working on our final project for our one-year Journalism and Media Studies course we were undertaking at Monroe College. Our then professor – and forever mentor – Jerry George had given us a list of stellar media practitioners to choose from. Scady and I decided to choose Guy, perhaps because of his mystique, but also because we were told that not only was he the most senior journalist around but that he was also our finest.
After receiving a warm welcome from Guy and his wife, Scady and I got down to business straight away. I pressed “play” on my voice recorder, and our questions came as fast as his responses. Guy was in-depth and rich in his articulation. He basically revealed his entire journey in the media landscape. He was golden.
During that interview, we posed a pointed question to Guy: “Would you consider returning to The VOICE?” This was Guy’s answer: “I would go back to The VOICE. The VOICE is an institution in Saint Lucia. Nearly everyone who’s in the media in Saint Lucia has worked with The VOICE. It has longevity. The problem is that especially the people who work there right now are not aware of its legacy. And that is a serious thing. When I left The VOICE, there were newspapers in the archives from as far back as 1953. Every now and then, one needs to go into those old files and check and see what was done between 1953 and now so that one can be aware of what transpired between then and now. You have to know your legacy and where you came from.”
Lo and behold, by early March the following year, I went to work and was informed that our Editor, Victor Marquis, had left The VOICE and that I had to double up as Editor, at least for the rest of the week. Later that month, Guy Ellis showed up at The VOICE to begin a six-month stint of training our entire Editorial Department. That process lasted three years and marked the best period of learning in my journalism career.
Within a few months, I was informed that I was to be Guy’s understudy. A few months later, I became Assistant Editor. After the third year of Guy’s tenure, I became Editor, but he stayed on for another six weeks to ensure a smooth transition.
The time had flown by, but the invaluable lessons that the humble gentleman taught me in three years will endure for the rest of my life. He stressed the need for great storytelling, human interest stories, feature writing, and learning the rules of the profession. He also stressed the need for constant reading.
One Christmas Eve, Guy called me into his office and informed me that he had a gift for me: he had contacted the folks at Associated Press, for whom he was a correspondent for over 30 years, and told them that I was going to be his replacement. He said I could email them and let them know whether I would accept or deny the offer and that he had done his part. I left Guy’s office close to tears and finished off crying as I walked to my desk.
After leaving The VOICE in February 2018, Guy and I kept in touch from time to time. Two years ago, I got a call from him. He had an offer: the Independence Committee was in the process of launching a publication featuring 42 outstanding Saint Lucians in various fields. I was tasked with profiling 20 persons while another journalist would profile the other 20. Guy proposed to feature 2.
After doing much leg work and presenting our profiles, we were told that the Committee was hard-pressed for funding for the magazine. While both contributors understood the circumstances, Guy never ceased to contact me to offer his profound apologies. In fact, as recently as last November, he repeated that apology and congratulated me on my present and future endeavours. We literally cannot produce humble spirits like Guy Ellis overnight. He was the epitome of humility and inspiration.
With his passing, I extend heartfelt condolences to the family, relatives, colleagues, and friends of Guy Ellis. I’m thankful that his and my paths crossed when they did because I am a better person and writer for it. He demonstrated great spirit and enthusiasm for his work. If you happen to get a copy of “A History of St Lucia”, which was co-authored by him, you will see what I mean.
Rest in peace to the best Editor one can ever ask for. Blessings!