KINGSTOWN – Sir James Mitchell, the second prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, died on Tuesday, his family has confirmed. He was 90 years old.
His death has brought to an end an era in the history of the country since he had been last surviving parliamentarian at the time when the island gained political independence from Britain on October 27, 1979.
“We are saddened to hear the news that the founder of the New Democratic Party (NDC) Sir James Mitchell has passed away. He was one of the founding fathers of our nation and served as the second Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines from 1984 to 2000, as well as premier to St Vincent and the Grenadines from 1972 to 1974,” the NDC said in a statement following the announcement of his death.
“During his time serving our nation, he achieved huge amounts in steering St Vincent and the Grenadines in the right direction, by providing economic stability and improving housing across our islands. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) once said of his economic leadership ‘there’s much to please and little to fault’.
“Sir James is undoubtedly to be credited for numerous developments in our country. He was the embodiment of a true statesman and a nation builder. Sir James was much loved by everybody that knew him and we pray for his family during this difficult time. May he rest in peace,” the party added in the statement.
Sir James, who was popularly known as “Son Mitchell,” died five days after being discharged from the Intensive Care Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Barbados, where he had been taken after falling ill at his home in Bequia, on October 30.
He was initially diagnosed, in Bequia, as having a gallstone, but was brought to the capital, Kingstown, where doctors said he had an infection.
“I have never hid my condition from the people of St Vincent and as you know, I have always been reporting how I am feeling well and swimming and all of that,” Sir James told CMC in a telephone conversation from his hospital bed in Kingstown, on October 31.
He said then that he had taken a fall in his kitchen about four months ago and while he suffered no broken bones, he had been experiencing some health challenges since then.
Doctors later decided to transfer Sir James to Barbados, where he was treated for severe dengue and sepsis, among other complications, his family said.
After being discharged from hospital in Barbados last Thursday, Sir James was taken back to “his beloved home Bequia” where he died.
“Throughout this entire ordeal, Sir James has been comforted by the support and love expressed on a daily basis by his former cabinet ministers, colleagues, constituents and his cherished NDP family,” the family said in a statement last Thursday after his release from hospital.