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Volume No. 2 Issue No. 29 - Monday February 25, 2008
Allan Buntin - Dominican Patriot, War Veteran and Civic Hero
By Gabriel Christian

gabriel christian
Gabriel Christian reflects on the life of a hero.
The news this morning of the death of my friend and former employer Allan Buntin comes as a shock. Of interest was a remark yesterday by Karol Phillip that there may be a military funeral on Dominica soon.

He had made that remark to me when I referred to Alan in a conversation when I asked where we could get acid for batteries and Karol said - maybe Martinique. That was strange that we would have to go to Martinique now for acid, as we used to make battery acid at Alan's firm, Smith & Lord, back in 1976. Now this news.

Parting Words
Just a few weeks ago, on or about February 1, 2008, Allan Buntin, Dave Kentish and I shared a drink at Brizee Mart. The breeze was cooling, as it came over the verdant Morne Bruce Hills, and the temperature was just right. I had met Allan while shopping and asked that we have a drink, as it was something I had promised to do for some time. He said fine.

I went on shopping as we were preparing for an event with US Chef Joe Ushinski and we were quite busy. Truth be told, by the time I was through shopping, I had forgotten. On the way to the car, Allan appeared from the side of the building, hobbling on a soft black cast he wore on one foot and said in his usual brusque way: "Christian, you scamp! You forget me man!"

He had been sitting outside under a little parasol with Dave Kentish and he was right; my busy mind had slipped. I offered an apology, packed away my groceries and - along, with Chef Joe in tow, retired to the shade of the benches. As we sat there, we had a nice long talk, which spanned a life time.

Kentish remarked about the state of the country and the dire need for statesmen who think - not of the next election - but of the next generation. Allan lamented on the lack of volunteerism in our society and the crime which seemed prevalent among certain sectors of our population.

He felt we were not business like enough and we needed to have a more positive attitude among us Dominicans. Nonetheless, he was steadfast in his optimism that Dominica was a great place and confident, that with effort we could make it even better.

Both Buntin and Kentish were, unanimous in their praise of the young boy and girls in the Dominica Cadet Corp. In parting, Alan said, "My wife is a great cook. Next time you come, let us have a meal." We embraced and parted, as the sun's rays lengthened in the western Caribbean sky.

Smith & Lord
For those who did not know him, Allan Buntin was a white Dominican of Texan extraction. In 1976, he was the manager of Smith & Lord in Roseau. Smith & Lord was an old firm, which then owned the Land Rover dealership and was the agent for Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors.

The firm also sold battery acid; a key element in the car business in the time before maintenance free car batteries. That summer of '76 my mother shooed me out of the house by getting me a part-time job as a clerk at Smith and Lord. I was 15 years old and on my way to the 5th form at the DGS.

At Smith and Lord I sold spare parts, helped Darnley Guye make battery acid, and listened while Mr. Titre (who was instrumental in my getting the job, shared his philosophy that this independence business which I promoted was a troublesome thing -after all white people had done for us). Throughout Allan was always talking about Rotary, and was the first Rotarian I knew up close.

Allan & the School Books Project
One day a huge shipment of school books came from Rotary International or some such group. Allan told me to accompany him to the port which was then still in Roseau (the deep water harbour was not quite completed).

There he took off his shirt and, under the blistering sun; we packed away the books unto a truck. Though streaming with sweat, I kept my shirt on. The Customs Chief, Mr. Andre came by and took a few books, in his words, "for my boys." Those boys he referred to included Irving Andre, now a well known Canadian Judge and Dominican writer and Lenny Andre, now a well know architect.

When Allan took off his shirt, I noticed he had deep red indentations in his abdomen area. When I asked him about it, he told me to approach him. "Press me here Christian, he said." When I did, I felt something hard."

He said to me that it was some sort of plastic or fiber glass, inserted to hold in his stomach after he had been wounded by a mine explosion during his service in the Vietnam War. A US army veteran, Allan had been decorated for bravery in Vietnam, and is the only Dominican I know to have received the Bronze Star for heroism.

He also had been awarded a Purple Heart. After we stood around paging through books, which included The Red Badge of Courage -a story on the US Civil War. I knew little of that war and recalled Allan's remark about the scant history taught in our schools. While I had read of Lincoln, the Civil War and the issue of the fight against slavery was little known in Dominica.

One day he showed me an old gentleman sitting in a huge truck cab outside the store. The man was dressed all in khaki and wore a felt hat; looked quite modest and "country" while eating out of a brown paper bag.

Allan said, "You see that fella there, he is the richest man in the north. He is the one they call RBD." It was the first time I saw Mr. Douglas, father of Rosie and Mike Douglas.

May His Memory Live On
So, Allan was a man dedicated to voluntary service and opportunity for others. With my first pay day earnings, I ran off to Cee Bee and bought a history book, Caribbean Patterns, by Sir Harold Mitchell.

Today I still have that book, tattered and worn, in my library. Allan Buntin had given me a job, opened my eyes to the world in part, taught me a degree of industry and shared the Rotary spirit of volunteerism with me.

Though he had a sharp tongue and could be perceived as arrogant, he was kind hearted and cared deeply for Dominica. A US citizen, he never thought of leaving throughout our island's ups and downs.

I recall his good relations with employees such as Mr. Titre, Darnley Guye, Ms. Titre, Ms. Astaphan, and Ms. Angela Winston.

In honor of Allan and the civic virtue he taught, may as many of us support the Rotary Club and other voluntary civic organizations in their noble efforts. The communities in which we live can only become better by such unselfish service.

Such volunteerism and sharing of knowledge and opportunity would be a most fitting tribute to Allan Buntin: Rotarian, Vietnam War Veteran, Industry leader and Civic Hero.

At this sad time of loss, I extend my condolences and that of my family to his wife and family and those in the Rotary Club of Dominica who worked with him on so many projects. E-mail to a friend

nature isle tropical gourmet

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Volume No. 2 Issue No. 12
Paradise, Eden
Skerrett's Letting Loose
Haitian Migration
Morne Aux Diables
Nature Isle gourmet
Cinderella gets gher dance

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