Historic funeral service for Paul O'Hara
May 3, 2007
Long-standing journalist Chandr Paul Persaud popularly known as Paul O'Hara was laid to rest yesterday and his funeral service was held in the Promenade Gardens, one of his favourite places.
Persaud died at age 93 last Thursday.
Having a funeral in the gorgeous garden was a historic event much like O' Hara created many times over. This is the first known funeral to have been kept at the Promenade Gardens.
Many filled the seats under the five tents that were erected around the bandstand to say farewell to this veteran journalist and to pay tribute. Those who did not have seats stood or sat on the garden benches nearby.
Although bad weather plagued the day, the rain eased during Persaud's funeral service.
Prior to the service persons viewed his remains. Among those present were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Fist Lady Varshnie Jagdeo, Minister within the Ministry of Education Desrey Fox, Mayor of Georgetown Hamilton Green and members of the Diplomatic Corp and business community.
While delivering his eulogy, one of Persaud's closest friends, Eddie Fredericks said the Promenade Gardens was one of his favourite places. He noted that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who was born on the same day and month as O'Hara, is present there. He added that O'Hara had always made sure he was present at every anniversary celebration held for Gandhi.
"A monument of Mahatma Gandhi is in this gardens and it is only fitting that his funeral is held here".
During his eulogy, Fredericks said that the Buxtonian-born, Persaud received several certificates in accounting but soon realized that that was not the stream that motivated him.
He said that during Persaud's primary school days, he pioneered the planting of onions at the family farm.
Walking though Persaud's life with the audience, Fredericks said that Persaud who was born on October 2, 1913 was educated at the then St Augustine Anglican School and then St Anthony's Roman Catholic School in Buxton. He had no formal secondary education but pursued higher education at the then Collegiate School and the Beterverwagting School of Accountancy. While attending school during the 1920s he was already serving as district correspondent for the Daily Chronicle and the New Daily Chronicle, rival newspapers at the time.
Later he was editor of several publications including the then Guyana Review, which was the official organ of the Man Power Citizens' Association; and the New Look, a privately-owned independent weekly.
In the 1930s, using the pen name Paul O'Hara, he began radio news reporting on the local broadcasting stations. It was the first time that news was broadcast on the radio anywhere in the Caribbean.
He remained in charge of the station's news services for the duration of World War Two and for many years after, doing voice casts for CBS, NBC, Radio Barbados, Radio Jamaica, Radio Trinidad, and Radio Antilles.
Fredericks said that at the 25th Independence Day celebration, O'Hara was conferred with the Cacique Crown of Honour.
His son, Paul Persaud Jr. told the gathering that his father was intimidated by no one. He thanked his father for the advice, teaching and most of all the memories that will be left with him.
Virbert Parvatan, a close friend of Persaud in a short tribute said he was a very thankful and appreciative person.
"He said to me one day, old age was not a disease but a condition".
The elder Persaud had a presence in the media for more than 70 years.