Dr. Harris was at the time paying tribute to Dr. Christmas who died late last month, (July) after a period of illness.
The government minister said the late ambassador was selectively very generous. He contributed to the educational advancement of our people through awards to those students who did well in the adult education programme. He clearly appreciated the value of education and the special challenge for the older ones to undertake studies after leaving school and to do well at them, said Dr. Harris while highlighting some of the finer characteristics of Dr. Christmas.
He showed me evidence of his regular financial contribution to the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, by way of transfers at the National Bank, of a portion of his salary as Permanent Representative to the UN, shared Harris.
“Joe Christmas never had the benefit of secondary education at any of our high schools. He would soldier on after his primary education to do his O’ Levels. He passed five (5) subjects. He could then relate to those who left school and had acquired subjects through discipline, hard work and application, stated Dr. Harris.
Dr. Harris told the family and friends who gathered at the Bethel Church, Parsons Village on Friday, 12th August, 2011, that when the Government recalled Dr. Christmas as Ambassador in 2006, the former diplomat confided in him that he was interested in serving in the area of development, treating with issues relating to water, land, economic development, and diplomacy. He faded away before he could have helped us establish a water development plan that would have provided water for agriculture, explained the government official.
Minister Harris said Dr Christmas was perhaps the most celebrated son (from Saddlers and Lavington) and our country’s “water man” of international repute. Harris said he never wavered in his outreach on issues having to do with the water development and supply. “He liked to remind us that he knew the water situation better than all others. After all it was his strategy and plan, set years ago, that the country was following,” outlined Harris.
Agriculture was also of deep interest to him, for, as is known by many persons, his loving and adoring mother is wedded to the farm, said Harris.
According to Harris, Dr Christmas was a class mate and a hall colleague of Patrick Manning, former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who has been reported to remark that he had never seen a person as determined to succeed as “Joe” and he was therefore not surprised when he (Joe) got a PhD.
Dr. Christmas and Manning were residents of Irvine Hall, at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. One Hall colleague remarked that Christmas had an “earthly charm and grace”. He was also recognized as a man with a large spirit and even when he was an international expert on water he was still just Joe.
Dr. Harris who began his working career as a teacher at the Bethel and Tabernacle schools also served as the first local Manager of the Water Department. He also had seventeen (17) years plus, as an international civil servant, which took him to Africa and Europe, working for the United Naions.
He ended his career as the St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the United Nations.