Pamelia Brereton chats with supercentenarian Melville Williams about his career as a Master Saddler and life in Barbados growing up. (BGIS)

Barbados’ oldest male centenarian and a beloved master saddler who is a household name in Barbados has died at the age of 111.

Melville Williams, died on Wednesday night at his Lonesome Hill, St. Peter residence around 11:00 p.m.

Hours earlier, the super centenarian, who was staying with his daughter Audrey temporarily while the roof to his home was being replaced following the passage of Hurricane Elsa almost three weeks ago, had returned home.  

Daughters June Williams-Newton and Audrey Brathwaite, paid glowing tribute to their father.

June said: “It warms my heart that I spent every year with him for the past 11 years or so. I will cherish the chats every morning after breakfast particularly those that engrossed his life growing up with his parents. I’m so lucky to have him as my dad and for such a long time. I believe he would want all of us to celebrate life today.”

Audrey fondly recalled her father as a man “wrapped up in life-long history” who loved people, and gave his last to help the less fortunate.

She noted there was a lesson for the younger generation to learn in the way in which he took care of his body. 

“Daddy knew when his system needed a good ‘clean out.’  You would see the bottle of castor oil next to his medicine containers and he would put the bottle to his head and take two sips. He also believed in taking natural remedies to cure the common cold and other ailments.”

Mrs. Brathwaite described her late father as very particular and one who paid attention to the finer details such as the way in which meals were presented. “Daddy lived his life to the fullest and although we will miss him it is a celebration of life that we must all embrace.”

Born in 1910, Williams honed his craft at the feet of his father, Napoleon Bonaparte, a saddler and prestigious worker at several plantations back then.

As an accomplished saddler and entrepreneur, Melville produced saddles and harnesses to outfit horses for buggies, donkey carts and tralalas, as well as birdies and collars for race horses. 

He found employment as far as New York and Pennsylvania and in Trinidad for the Police Force, where he was renowned for his skill.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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