From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Nita Barrow, Stateswoman and Ecumenical Leader, Dies in Barbados

Date 04 May 1996 20:43:25


  Nita Barrow, Stateswoman and Ecumenical Leader, Dies in Barbados 
                       Ecumenical News International 
GENEVA--Dame Nita Barrow, the governor-general of Barbados, a former 
president of the World Council of Churches, and one of the world's leading 
pioneers in community health care, died in Barbados on December 19.  She 
was 79. 
     Dame Nita, who was appointed Barbados' first woman governor-general in 
1990, was reported to have collapsed after being taken ill Monday night at 
an annual police officers' party near the Barbados capital, Bridgetown. 
     The governor-general represents Queen Elizabeth II as head of state of 
     Nita Barrow, of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the 
Americas, was born in Barbados.  She trained as a nurse but her career 
spanned involvement in health care, education, and the ecumenical movement, 
before representing her country at the United Nations and becoming governor 
     Nita Barrow was a pioneer in developing the concept of community 
health care, not least because of her experience as principal nursing 
officer in Jamaica in the 1940s, experience which she later brought to the 
World health Organization and the World Council of Churches. 
     As associate director (1971 to 1975) and then as director (1975 to 
1981) of the WCC's Christian Medical Commission, her responsibilities 
included advising church-affiliated health institutions throughout the 
world on all developments in health care.  Her leadership gifts were 
further recognized when she became a WCC president from 1983 to 1991. 
     Nita Barrow also served as president of the World YWCA (Young Women's 
Christian Association) and of the International Council of Adult Education. 
     In 1985, Dame Nita, who in 1980 was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, 
served as convener of the forum in Nairobi which marked the close of the 
United Nations Decade for Women.  The following year she became the 
permanent representative of Barbados to the United Nations, and was a 
member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons' Group on South Africa. 
     Philip Potter, WCC general secretary from 1972 to 1984, worked with 
Nita Barrow at the WCC headquarters in Geneva but first met her when she 
arrived in Jamaica in 1945, and remained a personal friend for 50 years.  A 
person with a "radiant faith," Nita Barrow was "one of the finest examples 
we have of the ecumenical movement becoming a movement of the people," 
Potter said, adding that "there was something quite natural about her, and 
she was a real example of what we call a  Calypso Caribbean.'" 
     Nita Barrow's brother was Errol Barrow, who as leader of the 
Democratic Labor Party, led Barbados to independence from Britain, and 
became the country's first prime minister in 1966.  "But he was always 
known as  Nita's little brother,'" Potter told ENI. 
     Konrad Raiser, WCC general secretary, described Dame Nita as a woman 
with a "powerful and at the same time very warm-hearted presence." 
     She was a "prime representative of a new generation of self-confident 
and articulate Christian women" and "inspired efforts for the empowerment 
of women," Raiser said in a tribute.  "The WCC gives thanks to God for all 
that Nita Barrow has contributed to the ecumenical movement." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home