Dr. Jean Holder has passed away

Dr. Jean Holder has passed away

Distinguished Barbadian technocrat and diplomat Dr. Jean Holder has passed away at the age of 85.

Starcom Network News understands he passed away in hospital where he was being treated for an illness.

He was well known throughout the region for his pioneering work in tourism and diplomacy.

Dr. Holder, a Barbados Scholar, also played a key role in Barbados’ transition to independence in the early and mid-1960s.

After leaving Oxford University in England, he was recruited into the diplomatic service to represent the newly formed West Indies Federation and subsequently served with the Eastern Caribbean Commission Office in London.

When then Premier Errol Barrow decided to make Barbados an independent nation Dr. Holder was part of the delegation at the Independence Conference discussions that took place between officials from Barbados and England in London at Lancaster House.

Dr. Holder has also served as Executive Director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and more recently as Chairman of the regional air carrier LIAT.

In addition to working in tourism and the Foreign Service, Dr. Holder has contributed significantly to the development of Barbados’ cultural landscape. He, along with a number of prominent Barbadian artists, formed the first National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) committee in 1973, when he was installed as Chairman.

Over the years, Dr. Holder has served on several boards and received many honours for his contribution to the development of a number of sectors in Barbados. Some of his notable awards include the Barbados Government Lifetime Achievement Tourism Award; the Barbados Companion of Honour (BCH); the Member of the Royal Victorian Order; and the CTO 50th Anniversary Award, presented to 50 persons adjudged by that organisation as having made the greatest contribution to Caribbean tourism in the past 50 years.

Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, has offered condolences over the passing Dr. Holder:

“Today, for the second time in two years, I find myself saying farewell to Dr Jean Holder, except that this time it is a final goodbye.

I am truly saddened at the news of the passing of my dear friend and guide, whose departure will not just be a loss to Barbados, but the entire Caribbean.

In January 2020, when Dr. Holder retired after a most critical contribution to the region as Chairman of Liat, I wished him a long and enjoyable retirement. But alas, while I’m sure the time was enjoyable, it was not to be as long as I would have wished.

Fortunately, however, Dr. Holder’s contribution to our country and region will not be measured by time served, even though by that yardstick he has outshone many. When the promotion and facilitation of strong regional ties were most needed, he took on the leadership of Liat and kept it alive — against formidable odds.

Long before that though, for three decades, to be more precise, he led the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, a most important institution that breathed life into the Caribbean tourism product that today makes the region the world’s most recognised tourism destination.

Barbados and the region will continue to owe this soft-spoken, always confident, forever reassuring son of the Caribbean Sea a debt of gratitude.

Here in Barbados, we will continue to honour his legacy, and that of his late wife Norma Holder, whose names are together inscribed in the Jean and Norma Hospitality Institute of the Barbados Community College, through its expanded service to our people and their advancement.

We will extol him as a genuine Caribbean renaissance man, a patron of the arts and founding chairman of the National Independence Festival of Creative Art, Barbados scholar, public servant and consummate defender of regional culture.

On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados and my own family, I extend the deepest sympathy to the Holder family, in particular his daughters Janet and Caroline.

May his soul rest in peace.”

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