Sir Everton Weekes was on Thursday immortalised as a “special gift of grace, gentility and greatness” and also hailed as a working class hero and nation-builder, as the country and region bid farewell to the West Indies legend who passed away earlier this month.
In an official funeral staged at the storied Kensington Oval on the fringes of the capital, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles told a gathering which included Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, that Sir Everton had defied his historical and social origins to claim his place at the pinnacle of global success.
Noting that Sir Everton had been “little in physical form and less so in monetary value”, Sir Hilary pointed out that the outstanding Barbadian had still emerged as “the greatest giant in a global world filled with giants, completing the near impossible climb to the top.”
“Sir Everton was one of the greatest revolutionaries of our Caribbean world because he deliberately designed a method to turn this [colonial] history upon its head,” Sir Hilary said in a compelling eulogy.
“He was a disturber of the colonial peace that denied any justice. He emerged as a dignified man, representing everything he was not meant to be.
“If ever a bat became a bridge, if ever a bat became a beacon, if ever a bat became a baton, it was the bat in the hands of Everton DeCourcey Weekes.”
The last surviving member of the famed Three Ws, Sir Everton died on July 1 at age 95, following a period of ill health.
Long heralded as one of the finest batsmen to have graced the game, Sir Everton churned out 4455 runs from 48 Tests between 1948 and 1958 at an average of 58, after making his international debut at age 22.
His feat of becoming the first ever batsman to score five Test centuries in consecutive innings remains a record still to be broken.
However, Sir Hilary contended that while Sir Everton’s amazing record of performance spoke volumes, his life also reflected a story of achievement and triumph nearly impossible to obscure.
“Numbers are never enough. Behind the figures reside a configuration of life and living. It is the grand narrative of which they are merely a part. Behind the numbers, there is the hidden history. With Sir Everton, the truth of this history is even more palpable,” said the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies.
“He became the first Barbadian to be classified and celebrated as number one in the world in any approved and respected endeavour,” added the leading regional academic, in reference to Sir Everton’s designation by Wisden in 1951 as one of its five Cricketers-of-the-Year.
“This was a seismic, seminal moment. Barbados, not yet a nation-state and under colonial oppression, had received its first international endorsement as a place that produced performance excellence.
“The island entered the annals of international popular culture as a society that gave life and nurture to a native recognised as a special gift to humanity.”
Sir Hilary also underscored Sir Everton’s contribution to national development, describing his emergence as a world class figure as one of the driving forces in creating a new national consciousness.
“He was the metaphor that defined the mentality necessary for the making of a nation. He placed his country and region above the cruelty of history. He became the champion of achievement and liberation of our people with dignity,” Sir Hilary asserted.
“The masses that followed Marcus Garvey into rejecting colonialism in preference of democracy had produced an icon that represented their dreams for future generations.”
National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, headed a distinguished list of mourners which included legendary fast bowler Sir Wes Hall, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Joel Garner, Charlie Griffith, and former West Indies captain Brian Lara who was a pallbearer.
Sir Everton’s son, the former West Indies wicketkeeper David Murray, was also in attendance along with Barbados Cricket Association president and Cricket West Indies director, Conde Riley, and UWI Cave Hill principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau.
Sir Everton was buried at Three Ws Oval of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, alongside Sir Frank Worrell who died in 1967 and Sir Clyde Walcott who passed away in 2006.