Ray Smith OBE, chief negotiator of GRENTEL deal dies

by Linda Straker

  • Chief negotiator to form Grenada Telephone Company, and Cable and Wireless into GRENTEL
  • Served as GRENTEL’S first chairman
  • Founding member of the Willie Redhead Foundation

Raymond “Ray” Smith who had responsibility for Telecommunications and Health during the Interim Administration following the collapse of the People’s Revolutionary Government, has died.

Among the first Communications Engineers in the region, Smith during the late 1980s was the adviser and chief negotiator for the Government of Grenada in the initiative to bring together the business interests of the Grenada Telephone Company, and Cable and Wireless, leading to the establishment of GRENTEL of which he served as its first chairman.

GRENTEL no longer exists, but it was the parent of what has is now known as FLOW.

He has been described by regional telecommunications experts for innovations in broadcasting engineering. “This includes devising a news form of studio soundproofing using natural material, which was adopted by broadcast operations as far as ways as the Pacific Islands,” said the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) which named Smith into its Hall of Hame in 2017. At the ceremony, he was recognised for his service to the establishment of the CBU in 1970 and steering the union in its early years.

Born in 1930, Ray Smith attended the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) in St George’s. He received his initial training in basic engineering at the Public Health Engineering Unit in St George’s before migrating to Canada to pursue studies in radio engineering. He pursued night courses in Management and Administration at Sir George Williams College while working in Montreal.

Recruited in Montreal, he returned to Grenada to take up the post of Chief Engineer Windward, Island. Broadcasting Service (WIBS) in 1954, serving until its disbandment in 1971, whereafter, as a consultant in private practice he advised Dominica, St Lucia and St Vincent, on the establishment of their own respective local broadcasting service and Corporation. He served training attachments at the BBC and The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation according to his biography on the Willie Redhead Foundation (tWRF) of which he was a founding member.

The foundation’s website states that Smith was known as a descendant of James Smith, one of the Scots-Grenadian master builders educated in Edinburgh, who constructed several of the Georgian buildings which grace the historic district of St George’s.

Smith was honoured by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 and awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (OBE) to be an officer of the Civil Division for Outstanding Service.

Smith and his wife who preceded in death are survived by 2 children.

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