Dominica’s first Chief Minister passes on

Baron was Dominica's first Chief Minister
Baron was Dominica’s first Chief Minister

Dominica’s first Chief Minister, Franklyn Andrew Merrifield Baron, has died.

He passed away at the Princess Margaret Hospital on April 9, 2016.

He was 93.

He was born at Portsmouth on 19 January 1923. He was educated at the Portsmouth Government School, The Dominica Grammar School, and St. Mary’s Academy.

He started his business career in 1939 as Manager of his father’s company, A.A . Baron & Company, a firm engaged in import/export activities, general merchandise and groceries and assumed partnership of the firm in 1945. He was involved in the first exports of bananas after World War II and was a founding member of the Dominica Banana Growers Association (DBGA).

He served on the Roseau Town Council in the 1940s. He unsuccessfully contested the Portsmouth Legislative Council seat in 1951 general elections, losing to R.B.Douglas. As a result of this defeat, he abandoned Portsmouth and concentrated his attention on Roseau and the south of Dominica. He won the Roseau South seat in the 1954 and 1957 general elections.

In March 1956 the ministerial system of government was introduced and Baron was made Minister for Trade and Production. In 1957 he founded the Dominica United Peoples Party (DUPP) and formed the government. During 1957 he represented Dominica at talks in Jamaica and Barbados leading to the creation of the Federation of the West Indies the following year. Baron represented the Windward Islands at talks in London on the winding up of military bases in the West Indies between the United States of America, United Kingdom and West Indies in 1957.

In constitutional changes resulting from the 1959 Constitution, and coming into effect in January 1960, Baron was made Minister of Finance and first Chief Minister of Dominica. He lost his seat and the government to the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) in the general elections of 17 January 1961.
Baron’s DUPP government was responsible for planning, negotiating and beginning several important infrastructural projects such as Melville Hall Airport and the roads to the east coast, but these were completed during the first years of the DLP government and were forever associated with Edward Le Blanc’s leadership.

When the DUPP lost to the DLP by a landslide in the 1966 general elections, he quit active politics and returned to business, tourism and real estate.
He built and operated the Sisserou Hotel. He was a prime mover in the Rotary Club’s construction of a Psychiatric Unit to replace the outdated St. Luke’s psychiatric home.

He was a great friend of Mary Eugenia Charles and when her Dominica Freedom Party came to power in 1980, Frank Baron was very much a power behind the scenes. Dame Eugenia appointed him to several diplomatic posts. He served as High Commissioner to the Court of St.James, London, and was Ambassador to the UN, OAS and the US. He founded Paramount Printers and bought out the New Chronicle newspaper and re-established it under its former name as The Chronicle.

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33 Comments

  1. Face the Facts
    April 11, 2016

    Take time to do good. A message for us all especially the critics who never appreciate the good others do and/or did and what they state. Make a note of it. It is also worthwhile passing on from one generation to another which is also a lesson for them, the future generation:

    I shall pass through this world but once. If therefore, there be any good thing I can do/say, or any kindness I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

  2. Jaded
    April 11, 2016

    On shopping day (Christmas Eve) Baron’s was always my must stop place. The popcorn in those red and white bags was the best ever. And the toys! Capsun guns, Corgi and Matchbox cars!

    • Face the Facts
      April 11, 2016

      His store was a popular one for shopping.

  3. A Doubting Thomas In Solidarity
    April 11, 2016

    I was too young to know the man personally but I have heard many things about Mr. Baron as all other Dominicans has had I would imagine. He had his good parts and also his bad parts. Like my Mom always says if you can’t say anything good about someone, say nothing. Thanks Dr. Honychurch for expanding on some of what I have already known. He was a businessman and Dominica First Chief Minister.

    He lived to the ripe old age of 93, so that can bring some comfort to his family. May his soul rest in peace. My Sympathy to his family and friends.

    • Face the Facts
      April 11, 2016

      I knew him as a well-known businessman and politician. This is all I can say for him. I was too young to be involved in politics. For my part as I viewed him, he was a respectable person.

  4. April 11, 2016

    I can say, well done to you sir on this side of life but my well done truly means nothing…The most important one is will the same be said by your creator now that you’ve entered the other side of things…I can’t tell…
    My condolences to your family…..

  5. duck1951
    April 10, 2016

    Although Mr. Baron was on the opposite side of his labor compatriots he was a class act and got along well with them. Where are these type of leaders today ?

  6. April 10, 2016

    R I. P.

  7. Doc. Love
    April 10, 2016

    We all knew Mr. Baron as a great politician. In fact, I cast my first vote in a general election for Mr. Baron. But I will remember him as the businessman who first brought popcorn to Dominica. In those days hundreds of us had to stand in line by his shop on Old Street to buy and enjoy our popcorn in a small red and white half pound bag. RIP my friend.

  8. Face the Facts
    April 10, 2016

    Thank you Lennox for this excellent profile and accomplishments of the late Frank Baron. Thank you DNO for posting it.
    Frank Baron had an interesting political life. During his lifetime, he worked hard for his beloved Dominica with a passion. He did not forsake Dominica.
    It is sad news to know he has departed. However, the Lord has relieved him of his earthly suffering and discomfort. He gave him the opportunity to pray and, for others to pray for him while he was sick. He is on his way to his Heavenly reward promised by Our Lord for those who are faithful to the end.
    My heartfelt sympathy to his wife Sybil, his daughter Royette and family and other members of his family, his in-laws, some in Dominica and others abroad.
    His grieving family will be remembered in my prayers including prayers for the repose of his soul.
    Eternal rest grant unto Frank, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in God’s glory and peace. Amen!

  9. Posie Kaka Rat
    April 10, 2016

    He was the ONLY true politician to come from Portsmouth. All the rest, except Rosie who died prematurely, were BIG MOUTH politicians with nothing to show for their worth. No wonder Portsmouth under Ian Douglas has become below the standard of a village, let alone town. No wonder Skerrit has no respect for the boy and Portsmouth. Ian is by far the worse from Possie. RIP Mr. Baron. Wish Savarin had taken a little of your vision

  10. Baron Worked for the People
    April 10, 2016

    May the soul of Baron rest in peace. He was not a perfect man but who is? At least he ruled with dignity and made a contribution in pushing for the new hospital and new DGS. Up till now our planned hospital is in the sky on My Dominica Trade House. He spoke to honesty in government and called on Dominicans to demand a government of honest men and women. And that is why the bought the Chronicle to shut down Just Sure and them.

    May we follow his stance in defense of accountability and transparency in Government and against those who hide their loot in Panama.

  11. %
    April 10, 2016

    I did not know much about Mr Baron.Thank you Dr Honeychurch….Mr Baron governed when Dominica prided itself on integrity,accountability and honesty.All these traits are absent today…RIP
    MAY YOU REST IN ETERNAL PEACE!!!!

    • Joan
      April 11, 2016

      honesty?did you ever hear abut 17000 tire deal?

  12. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 10, 2016

    May his soul rest in peace!

    I credit him for being a visionary, in that he built the DGS where it is now located. His critics daubed what was a modern building, “Cow Town” for no other reason than L Rose & Co operated nearby, and cows once grassed on the land the DGS is built on.

    Prior to that it was located on a main street in the Roseau, near to the old Bridge, now used as a primary, or secondary school the last time I went by there, that was many moons ago! In any event, even if he did not accomplish much he was an honest politician, and DGS can be considered his legacy!

    • Jimmy Smith
      April 10, 2016

      The DGS was built in 1963,almost 3 years after Mr. Baron left office, so he did not build it. It is true that the planning started under his administration with Mr. Elkin Henry, a member of Mr. Baron’s cabinet who said “out of the dung of cow town shall arise a monument of learning.”
      The school is really on the lime field of L. Rose & company with (what was then called) the technical wing and the playing field in cow town.
      and the building was never called cow town. Cow was the name of the location of the complex.

      • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
        April 11, 2016

        If the planing began in his administration, whose’s vision was it which brought about the project?

        And unless, I am completely wrong, the DGS was built prior to 1963, if I am not 100% sure I am 99.9999999999% sure it was built before 1963, unless we are talking about two different things!

        I’ll tell you what if you believe the school was built in 1963, call someone like Dr. Griffin Benjamin, and ask him if around 1962/63 if he attended DGS at the precise location. If he say I am wrong, then I’ll submit to you!

        You are talking about Cow Town too: you will remember I also spoke of “Cow Town” so one of us have to be correct, okay; ( I just doh know which one), but I believe I am correct!

    • Wish I Was There
      April 11, 2016

      D., Griffin Benjamin did not attend DGS around 62/63 in the precise location. If he did he would be about 65 years now. Surely you do not want to bring advance age on this young man, cuz!

    • Jimmy Smith
      April 12, 2016

      Why should I call Dr. Benjamin? I was there when it opened.
      The playing field and Technical wing was built in Cow Town. The DGS is on the bath Estate road. Cow Town was at the river bank (separated from the river by a 10-12′ wall

  13. Believer
    April 10, 2016

    Thanks Dr. Honychurch for the above account of Mr. Barons life and accomplishments.

    He was indeed a great son of the soil who served his country in many capacities.

    Rest in Peace “Baron” (as he was always affectionately called.

  14. Real possie
    April 10, 2016

    Almost a nice write up, was looking for his family life. Did he have any kids? Yet still am happy for what was written, just wish that could’ve been done before he died, so he could’ve given an insight of certain things. Maybe a young person could’ve gotten some ideas from him. Like the saying goes, you only get your flowers when you’re gone.

    • Lennox Honychurch
      April 10, 2016

      This overview of his life was indeed published during his lifetime in his own newspaper, The Chronicle, with his help on certain points in a series that I did called ‘A to Z of Dominica Heritage’. In this I left out his family details in case I left anyone out and upset anyone for doing so. That can come when the family composes the death annoncement and the obituary. My aim in doing this was simply to tell of his life and contributions. (Boy, one really cannot win in this place. Best sometimes to say and do nothing!)

      • Face the Facts
        April 10, 2016

        Thank you dear Lennox, our historian. Hope you are doing well in Barbados where you assumed a new duty a few years ago. Time flies doesn’t it? :lol:
        We do know you keep very near to your beloved Dominica.
        Your article(s) especially this one is greatly appreciated. The younger ones of the new generation may not know much of Frank Baron and his accomplishments. This will enlighten them.
        God bless you!

      • real possie
        April 10, 2016

        I now get your point LH. I never looked at to who wrote the story because DNO never puts who writes any stories so I stop looking at that part because there’s never any names like I said. I want to thank you for doing so, was not privy to the info of his life in his paper, which gives the reason I was asking for more. I am one of those who has great respect for what you have done for us history wise throughout your life. I will give you your flowers here and say thank you so much for all you have done.

      • mine
        April 11, 2016

        You are 100 % correct( one really cannot win in this place,)

      • Viewsexpressed
        April 11, 2016

        Lennox, you did well, thanks, Do not be offended, I think you gave best response where the information asked for is best placed. Therefore your last statement above was not necessary, You did absolutely well. I thought it was a genuine question which resulted in you giving the best response, that is directed the person where this message is best suited. Please do not take it personal. Thanks again

    • Face the Facts
      April 10, 2016

      To my knowledge he had two children, Roy and Royette with his first wife. She passed on many years ago.
      Sadly, Roy passed on some years ago in the USA. He was married to Eulis Didier, niece of the Allports, as the late Mrs. Wilfred Shillingford, mother of Henry Shillingford, Attorney in Dominica.
      I just spoke to Frank Baron’s sister-in-law, Dollie McIntyre-Bertrand who is married to Twistleton (Twis) Bertrand to offer my condolence. They reside in Ontario as I. Will later be talking to Malley McIntyre, Frank’s brother-in-law and his wife Tingale Douglas-McIntyre, the late Rosie’s sister who also resides in Ontario.
      I understood that Royette, his daughter is now in Dominica.
      Knowing them since those days in Dominica, in my estimation, they were/are all wonderful people.
      May God console and strengthen them all in their grief. May Frank Baron, RIP!

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      April 10, 2016

      I am sure he has a son, I know him way back when he was a kid, I lived on Kings lane near his home, on the corner of Kings Lane opposite to where CB Record Store was located in recent years it was also a book store.

      McIntyre optometry office is right next to his house on Kings Lane.

      I saw Frank every morning walking his son, who turned out to be a politician too.

      I believe he won a seat, in the opposition, and daubed himself a watch dog for the nation, I believe it was in the days of the coalition government.

      • pusss
        April 11, 2016

        Frederick baron that is one of his sons

      • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
        April 11, 2016

        Frederick, is the one I know, he is the who walked with Frank, in the mornings’!

    • Tjebe Fort
      April 11, 2016

      Did he have any kids? Are you kidding???

  15. Titiwi
    April 10, 2016

    A colossus on the Dominica scene in every aspect. and difficult to emulate. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  16. May His Soul Rest in Peace
    April 10, 2016

    Mr Baron made a remarkable contribution to Dominica’s growth, and did produce much in way of agriculture and industry. In his later years he took a strong stand in defense of our faltering democracy and the need for integrity in government. May we remember the good he stood for. In particular the voice
    he gave to the ordinary man to speak truth to power in The Chronicle newspaper before it was neutered by Ambassadors of shame.

    Condolences to his wife and family.

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