Esmond St. John Payne
His Excellency, the late Esmond St John Payne, CMG JP born on the 2nd August 1937 ended his pilgrimage on Saturday, August 22nd 2002 when by divine intent he touched the final milestone.
Raised in the very humble surroundings of Prickley Pear Alley, Basseterre, St. John pursued a career path which was not defined by the stringent limitations of his economic means. As the son of a humble and God-fearing woman, he cultured an enduring strength of character that propelled him through the difficult years of his youth, when, under the weight of his circumstances he had to join the workforce at the tender age of thirteen. His determination to achieve earned him a university.
His distinguished career commenced when he responded to the call by the late Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw to serve in the process of nation-building. Over the period, 1971 – 1980 he was Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Labour and Minister of Trade, Industry, Development and Social Security at different intervals.
He will be remembered for his sterling contribution to the revolutionizing of the Sugar Industry, and for the positive role, he played in spearheading the Agricultural Diversification Programme. Of all his years in the service of the people, St. John considered his input in the development of the Social Security Scheme as his greatest accomplishment. His special intimacy on this subject was reflected in his passionate literary discourse entitled: The History of Social Security in St. Kitts and Nevis: Past Present and Future.
He will be remembered as the epitome of endurance – a man who, motivated by his determination to achieve, earned mileage on the path to self-advancement. He was not born into affluence but his ability to embrace the philosophy of positivism imbued the most predictable dimension of his character… his attitude. After the short lull in his political career, during which time he migrated to Canada to seek a fresh start, St. John then returned to the Federation in the mid 1990s, where he served with distinction as Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis to the Caribbean Community, the Association of Caribbean States and The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and subsequently as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Throughout his life he distinguished himself as a standard bearer for the downtrodden and today he is still showered with gratitude for his myriad kind deeds. Ambassador St. John Payne, a legend, a true statesman, a man of the people and for the people.