Musical tribute for educator, arranger Desmond Waithe

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Republic Bank Exodus during their performance at the funeral for Desmond Waithe at the band’s panyard on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

Whether it was for last-minute rehearsal sessions, exam preparation or simply guidance, musician Desmond Waithe had an open-door policy at his home for anyone in need of help.

At his funeral on Saturday at the Republic Bank Exodus panyard in St Augustine, Waithe’s family and friends said he will be remembered as an endearing figure who dedicated his life to national development by uplifting others and sharing his gift of music.

A noted steelband arranger, chorister, educator, and University of TT lecturer, Waithe’s funeral featured scores of musical tributes from performers including Republic Bank Exodus, The Marionettes Chorale and BP Renegades Steel Orchestra.

While delivering her eulogy, Melissa Lynch-Waithe shared fond memories of her marriage to Waithe. She said he “left his mark on almost everyone who crossed his path.”

Musician Desmond Waithe –

“The only thing missing from our home was a sign outside saying ‘Wait Yuh Turn Music School,’ or something like that because every other day students would be filing into our home.”

Even though Waithe was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (silver) in 1993 for outstanding contribution to music in TT, Lynch-Waithe said he was never boastful of his accomplishments.

She joked, “Many people never even knew he was the holder of a Humming Bird Medal…until I told them. As a matter of fact, I did the boasting for him.

“Desmond was one of the humblest individuals that you would ever come across. The man has many accomplishments, but you wouldn’t know unless you asked or read about it somewhere.”

From a young age, Waithe’s daughter Melanie – head of Newsday’s sub-editing department – said she admired his love and dedication to music.

Desmond Waithe s children (left-right) Melanie, Jace and Jordan speak during Desmond Waithe s funeral. – Paula Lindo

She recalled waiting in the carpark of Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s while her father attended meetings and even trying her hand at music on several occasions.

But apart from her own fond memories with him, Melanie said it was the outpouring of love from people to the family which gave her strength as her father battled his prolonged illness in the weeks leading up to his death on April 20.

“There’s been a comfort in these last few weeks, and months, hearing from so many people just how much of an influence dad had and how much of an impact he had on the world.

“I am so grateful I was able to spend so much time with him in these last few months.”

During his homily, Anglican Dean Emeritus Dr Knolly Clarke said TT’s young people need the support of mentors like Waithe, especially in the face of issues like an uptick of violence in schools.

Clarke analogised Waithe’s mentorship to young people, and musical contributions, to the Biblical story of Jesus feeding many with just five loaves and two fishes.

Clarke exclaimed, “Our brother (Desmond) really did what God wanted him to do…feed his sheep. Not to give handouts but to help people learn to play music.

Anglican Dean Emeritus Dr Knolly Clarke delivers the homily at Desmond Waithe’s funeral on Saturday at the Republic Bank Exodus Panyard in St Augustine. – Paula Lindo

“When you see the nonsense in schools today, our schools need Desmond Waithe.”

Former Tunapuna MP Eddie Hart said Waithe not only passionately provided for his family but for others.

Hart said people must ensure Waithe’s selflessness lives on by doing good for others and loving each other.

“What is outstanding about this gentleman is his humility. Desmond can be happily described as greatness walking in humility.

Monsignor Esau Joseph offers blessings at the funeral of Desmond Waithe held at the Republic Bank Exodus panyard, Tunapuna on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

“Desmond was in touch with the common man and he was on the ground all the time wherever he went.”

Hart is calling on the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation to rename a street in Tunapuna in Waithe’s honour.