Former SVG GG Sir Frederick Ballantyne passes

Former SVG GG Sir Frederick Ballantyne passes
Sir Frederick Ballantyne, the late governor general, St. Vincent and the Grenadines seen here with Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO director.

Sir Frederick Nathaniel Ballantyne, a former governor-general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, serving from 2002–2019, died on Jan. 23 at his home in Villa, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He was 83.

“Sir Frederick was the longest serving Head of State, having served from September 2002 to July 2019,” said THE VINCENTIAN on Jan. 24. “He is said to have demitted office for health reasons and recently had been receiving care at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

“A medical doctor by profession, Sir Frederick served this country as the sole cardiologist for many years, even as he held the office of Senior Medical Officer for an extended period of public service,” the paper added.

A trained cardiologist and former chief medical officer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir Frederick was appointed governor-general on Sept. 2, 2002, according to Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia.

It said he was sworn in after nominated by the country’s Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves.

Sir Frederick had succeeded Dame Monica Dacon, who had been acting in the position after the death of Sir Charles Antrobus in June 2002.

Later in 2002, “in connection with his new appointment, he was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II,” according to Wikipedia.

In June 2009, the University of the West Indies, (UWI) awarded Ballantyne a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.). He was one of 16 regional figures recognized for their contributions with honorary degrees.

Ballantyne was born on July 5, 1936, as his parents’ only child, according to David East and Richard J. Thomas in their “Profiles of People in Power: The World’s Government Leaders” (2014).

Sir Frederick’s father owned a small hotel, and he has described himself as “from a business family’” according to “History: Young Island.”

The “Physician Statesman” said Ballantyne was the first member of his family to attend high school.

It said that, on the advice of an acquaintance who had studied medicine in the United States, he chose to attend university in that country, rather than in Britain or Canada, as was usual for Vincentians at the time.

The “Physician Statesman” said Sir Frederick completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and then went on to the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York to study medicine.

Upstate Medical Alumni Association (Winter 2013) said Sir Frederick was the “sole black individual” enrolled in the medical school at the time.

It said Ballantyne was elected to student government in every year of his degree; and, in his final year, was elected student body president.

After graduation, the association said Sir Frederick interned at the Montreal General Hospital and then completed his residency in internal medicine in Rochester, New York, followed by fellowship in cardiology.

On returning to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1971, the association said Ballantyne was “the most highly trained physician on the island.”

The “Physician Statesman” said he was consequently appointed chief of medicine at the newly-constructed Kingstown General Hospital, renamed the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, in honor of the country’s first premier and prime minister.

“Ballantyne oversaw upgrades in the facilities of both the hospital and regional health clinics, with one of his first priorities being to expand the hospital’s immunization program,” Wikipedia said.

He also instituted the hospital’s Visiting Specialist Program, “which recruited overseas medical specialists to volunteer in St. Vincent’s hospitals in exchange for free accommodation in the country’s resorts,” “Caribbean Elections” said.

According to NBC Radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in 1985, Ballantyne was appointed St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ chief medical officer, serving in the position until 1992.

The “Physician Statesman” said Sir Frederick remained involved in medicine, after his official retirement from practicing, in a consulting role.

Outside of his career in the medical field, Wikipedia said Sir Frederick had business interests in several other areas.

Prior to being appointed governor-general, he served as president of the Millennium Bank, an offshore bank registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and also as president of Dimethaid International Inc., a pharmaceutical company registered in Barbados.

In addition, Wikipedia said Sir Frederick was also the founder of International Business Services Limited (IBS), a financial services provider now run by his son, Marcus, and a co-owner of the Young Island Resort, a tourist resort on a small island off mainland St. Vincent’s southern coast.

According to the local Searchlight newspaper, within hours of his death, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that Sir Frederick will be accorded a State Funeral on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Kingstown Methodist Church. Interment was expected to be at the Kingstown Cemetery the same day.

“A distinguished cardiologist and a former chief medical officer, Sir Frederick spent his last day in office on July 31, 2019, having served in that capacity for almost 17 years,” noted the Searchlight, stating that Sir Frederick was the country’s fifth governor general.

At the time of the swearing in of his successor, the paper said Sir Frederick thanked the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“As I exit the stage, I must say that it has been a great journey, bolstered by the country and the people, who I love dearly, and all Vincentians who supported me,” he said.

The Searchlight said Sir Frederick is survived by his widow Lady Sally-Ann Ballantyne, seven children, a large extended family, members of the medical fraternity and friends.

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