|Randolph Bertie Russell
Randolph Russell was a former parliamentarian and Minister of Government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Early life and education
Randolph Russell was born on 22 November 1927 in the South Leeward village of Questelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Russell attended Primary School in that community before secondary education at the Intermediate High School.
The young Russell did a period of apprenticeship as a Motor Mechanic at Marshall’s garage in Arnos Vale. He worked as a Pump Operator in the Dutch Caribbean Island of Aruba for five years before he returned home.
His career as a businessman took root when he was involved in the purchasing of the Lyric Cinema and Hotel, around 1952. His role in the expansion of the Lyric Trading Company identified him as a man with keen acumen.
The Lyric Trading Company served as agent for National Bulk Carriers in New York, and that connection enabled scores of Vincentians to gain employment as seamen. When he broke with that company, Russell oversaw the expansion the formation of the West India Development Company which occasioned the Russell’s Cinema, established a soft drink bottling plant which bottled, among other drinks, the internationally renowned Coca Cola, and pioneered the shopping complex concept with the opening of the Russell’s Shopping Centre.
Russell later ventured into the hospitality industry with the purchase and renovation of the Tropic Breeze Hotel in West St. George. He also established the Wallilabou Resort Ltd, where the popular movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed.
He was a former Chairman of the Private Sector Organisation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He was also chair and managing director of first St Vincent Bank (formerly St Vincent Agricultural Credit and Loan Bank Ltd) from 1966 to the time of his death. At the time of his death, he was also chair of Sentry Insurance Co Ltd.
Russell, like many businessmen of his day, entered the political arena, and by 1967, he was chairman of the Kingstown Town Board, a postion he held for the next two years.
Russell represented the constituency of East Kingstown for three consecutive terms from 1972 to 1984 for the Saint Vincent Labour Party. He served as Minister of Health and Community Development in the Milton Cato administration from 1974 to 1981. He also held the portfolios of Housing, Local Government, Water and Cooperatives during his tenure.
Both the School of Nursing and Allied Health Services; the first offshore medical school, Kingstown Medical School, and the Regional Nurse Practitioner Programme; were established during his tenure as Minister of Health.
Russell fell out with the Labour Party in 1981 and resigned as Minister of Health. He served briefly as Leader of the Oppostion. Russell later formed the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) in 1982.
Russell was married to Gwendoline "June" Russell. He was the father of three sons - Stephen, Dale and Kirk.
Russell died in Barbados on Friday, 10 October 2014 in Barbados, where he had gone to seek medical attention, after suffering a stroke at his home at Queen’s Drive.. He was 86. He was accorded a State Funeral on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 at the St. Georges Cathedral, Kingstown, St. Vincent. His body was interred at the St. George’s Cathedral Church Yard.