One year ago the death of our friend and mentor Deryck Milton Alexander Bernard shook us to the core, as our image of him was not of a sick and ailing person, but of a strong man, upright and resolute. The suddenness of his death left no time for preparation or understanding. Why, we ask, did he have to die and not say goodbye?
Mr B, as he was fondly called, was one of those national leaders for whom many who admired him took the liberty − both in our quiet moments and among peers − of making ambitious plans for his future role in our society without his knowledge.
Deryck Milton Bernard was one of the most spotless and dignified national leaders of Guyana, and when the history of the PNCR, the University of Guyana and this country in general is written, he will also be acknowledged as one of the sincerest patriots of the nation. His life was an embodiment of love, hard work, dedication to family and duty to his country and people. With him, it was always honour and duty to nation before self. We searched deep in his personality to discern how someone could be so selfless and honourable. As we searched we found a man who operated at an extraordinarily high level of consciousness. We believe that it was the nobility of his character, his perceptiveness and his mental vigour that commended him to his colleagues. These attributes made him the preferred choice as our mentor over his peers.
What we admired most about him was his will power and his passionate admiration for young people with new creative ideas. He was never tired of listening to us younger ones articulating our dreams and ideas, some utopian, yet welcomed by him. Mr Bernard seemed to be always looking for a new conceptual reality − one that would forge youth development and social cohesion. He desired educational advancement and all the social improvements to which a nation had a right to aspire. He appeared motivated by young thinkers, always in the quest for new ideas.
His mind was the repository of a vast fund of valuable learning, quotable quotes and humourous anecdotes. Even more than that, he had this liberating influence that made us comfortable expressing our views on national and political issues freely.
The formal and informal contributions Deryck Bernard made to the educational and social development of young people in Guyana are incomparable and deserve national recognition. So as we mark the first anniversary of his passing we would like to recommend to the Ministry of Education the renaming of NCERD or a wing of the University of Guyana in his honour. To his widow, Mrs Myrna Bernard, his children and the rest of the Bernard family, Deryck left a rich legacy of which all of us must be proud. We thank you for lending him to us when we needed him most.
May the fond memories of this great son of the soil continue to comfort us.