Calypso icon Bomber remembered as doting family man, mentor

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Clifton Fitzroy Ryan Jr, son of calypsonian Clifton “The Mighty Bomber” Ryan, second from left, and grandson Clifton David, right, with two members of the Defence Force, view Bomber’s body during his funeral at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Monday. Photo by Sureash Cholai

After a music career spanning more than 70 years’ former Calypso Monarch Clifton “The Mighty Bomber” Ryan was brought to the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah for the last time.

Ryan, 93, passed away on January 1.

At a viewing and funeral on Monday, Ryan was praised for his sharp wit, lyrical prowess and thought-provoking commentary but also remembered for his dedication to family and community.

During his eulogy, Ryan’s son Clifton Ryan Jr said he remembered his father not only as a calypso pioneer but also a loving father and mentor to his children.

Ryan Jr said his father only had a standard-three-level education after his parents died and was largely self-taught as a performer, further testament to his skills as an entertainer.

He said even with his accolades, he never lost focus on his family.

“After marriage the family grew to ten. Though we were a large family, daddy made sure we were never undone.

“During the August holidays he brought all of our books, brand new and he covered them with polyethene and leathering ensuring they would last for years.

“He took great pride in caring for us in all aspects of our lives, including honing out musical talents.

“Daddy routinely pulled us together on weekends ensuring like him we had impeccable diction.”

He said one of his father’s most popular songs Joan and James was written based on his parents experiences moving from Grenada to Trinidad in their youth.

Anesta Harvey, granddaughter of calypsonian Clifton Ryan, the Mighty Bomber, and her daughter, Gloria Griffith, during his funeral at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Monday. Photo by Sureash Cholai

Ryan’s granddaughter Anesta Harvey who delivered part of the eulogy said some of her fondest memories of her grandfather were playing board games with him.

She said even as he grew in popularity, he put his family and community of Laventille first.

“He assisted the North West Laventille cultural movements for many years and was always proud to be a part and represent his community of Laventille.

“Granddad called his first family day in the early 1990s and since then the entire family has come together to have a grand time in honour of Joan and James, he was is and will always be a true family man.”

Major David Benjamin of the regiment and co-ordinator for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) also paid tribute to Ryan for his selflessness and dedication to helping others, noting his work in mentoring programme participants.

Describing Ryan as a “social scientist” who gave back to his community, Benjamin said the veteran calypsonian would often attend defence force and CCC events.

During the ceremony Ryan’s grandson, saxophonist Jesse Ryan’s performance of Joan and James paid tribute by virtually performing Joan and James from Canada where he lived.

A video tribute was shown which featured praise from other calypsonians including Morel “King Luta” Peters, Willard “Lord Relator” Harris and Ann Marie Parks-Kojo.

Ryan was cremated at Belgroves funeral home.