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John Anthony Keith (Tony) Archer
23 March 1939 - 14 July 1984

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My beloved husband from 16 July 1966

till his death on 14 July 1984 at age 45

Gertrude Louise (Sis) Mahon

1913 - 1996

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Hubert Keith Archer

1912 - 2004

Tony's parents

Introduction -

Childhood and lineage

 

Tony Archer was the only child of Hubert Keith Archer and Gertrude Louise Mahon.  Everyone knew them as Keith and Sis Archer.  He was born on Thursday 23 March 1939 at their home built by Keith’s father Norman.  It was set back from the road at the end of a long driveway and had a spacious back yard where they grew fruit trees and kept a few animals.  Their home was named “The Nook”, situated near Rockley beach on the far end of Dayrells Road in Barbados.

Tony’s paternal grandfather was Norman Lindley Archer and his wife Eleanora Isabel De Rouvier Greaves.   She was the daughter of Anthony Desse Greaves, a planter, and his wife Mary de Rouviere Agassiz from St. Vincent.  Mary was descended from the prominent Agassiz and de Rouvier families of Switzerland and France.  Her father was Rev. Robert Agassiz, Rector of St. Patrick and St. David in St. Vincent, West Indies.

For many years, Norman Archer was a well-known druggist and entrepreuner in Speightstown, St. Peter.  There he established and ran the Archer Pharmacy situated on the ground floor of their family home where Tony’s father Keith was born.  Photographs of this heritage home can be seen by clicking on this link

 

Keith was the second-born in their family of four children.  His siblings were Norman Stanley (known as Stanley), Eleanora (Nell), and a baby brother named David who died in infancy.  Keith  became a druggist and was working alongside his father in the family business in Speightstown when he married Gertrude, the only daughter of William Greaves Mahon and Marie Gertrude Thornton.  Her five brothers  affectionately called her Sis, as she was their only sister.

Around 1938 after Sis and Keith were married, Norman Archer sold his property on Queen Street, Speightstown to his friend and fellow druggist Noel Roach, who opened his own Pharmacy on the same premises as the Archer Pharmacy.  Norman purchased a house on the Hastings coast called "Camelot" where he relocated his family and established the Alpha Pharmacy in the property next door.  Norman subsequently built two houses - "The Nook" and the next door family home "Newstead", so called after the home of the same name where he had lived in St. Peter, prior to his home in Queen Street.  Norman and Nora moved into "Newstead" and lived there until his death in 1956.  His wife Nora moved back to "Camelot" on the coast with her two unmarried adult children and lived there until she passed away in 1975.

I'm not sure where Tony first went to primary school, but it's quite likely that he attended one of the small private schools run by ladies at their homes, such as Miss Hart's, in Worthing.   Later he attended Harrison College where he enjoyed his school days.  Upon completing his Oxford & Cambridge examinations, he applied for and got a job as a Junior at Barclays Bank DCO, as many youngsters did in those days. 

Working Days and Marriage

Around 1960 he went to London, where he spent a year working with the airline BOAC as a baggage loader at the airport.   Upon his return to Barbados in 1962, Tony joined his father in the firm J.A.K. Archer & Company Ltd., manufacturers' representatives.  Later he headed the firm of Archer and Company Limited as Managing Director.  He was also a director on the boards of Arrow Developers Limited and Aero Services Limited. 

I had not long moved from Trinidad to Barbados with my parents when I first met Tony.  I had just turned 18, he was 27.  Young and passionate love swiftly blossomed into marriage for us,  just nine months after we first met.  It was an exciting time of life, as we got to know each other's family and I was introduced to Tony's friends and his world of equestrian sports.  Tony was an avid sportsman.  He enjoyed playing water polo and tennis. He played cricket for the Wanderers Club and in the eighties he became a member of the Windward Cricket Club.  But horses were his first love. He represented Barbados in show jumping and polo for a number of years.  He was also a keen competitor in dressage, also sponsoring many equestrian events through his family business.  Later he turned his enormous enthusiasm and knowledge of horses to the sport of horse racing. He served as a member of the Committee of management of The Barbados Turf Club and was the youngest person ever to be appointed as Steward of The Turf Club.

(This story of Tony's life is currently being developed and will be continued . . .)

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At the Barbados Turf Club circa 1970, Tony Archer receiving a prize from

Sir Winston Scott, the first native Governor General of Barbados

People from all walks of life are mourning the death of Tony Archer, a man who during his lifetime became a friend of all.  The large crowd which overflowed the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Jemmotts Lane was indicative of the respect and love which followed this man throughout his lifetime.

 

The sudden death of John Anthony Keith “Tony” Archer last month, left a shocking numbness which will take sometime to wear off.  However, those of us who were fortunate to come into contact with him will always remember his pleasant personality and his constant willingness to help.

 

In the world of horse racing, Tony Archer made his mark not only as a much respected steward, but as a forward thinking person always ready to adopt new ideas.  He introduced sponsorship to horse racing in Barbados when his company J.A.K. Archer & Co. Ltd. launched the Martini Vermouth St. Leger back in 1966.



Since that first sponsored event this phenomenon has grown to tremendous heights in Barbados, but few remember the input of Tony Archer.  When the Martini Vermouth St. Leger failed to develop into the type of race that Tony envisaged, he abandoned the event, but returned some years later, this time with a new sponsor for the island’s most historic event.

The Mackeson Derby was the brainchild of Tony Archer and before the introduction of the rich Cockspur Gold Cup was the race of the year in Barbados.  Tony had only one way of doing things and that was the best.  With this in mind, he turned what used to be an ordinary classic into the most prestigious creole race in Barbados.  He assisted in increasing the stakes, putting a valuable trophy and staging a crowd pleasing event worthy of any of the major racing centers in the world.  With the backing of Tony Archer, race sponsorship reached new heights.

Tony Archer had one pet peeve and that was the poor standard of riding in Barbados.  He therefore in his own way set out to correct what he saw as a major stumbling block to the development of horse racing Barbados.  He was the driving force behind the establishment of the Jockey School, and one of his major disappointments came when this establishment closed its doors a few years ago.  Just before his untimely death, Tony Archer had once again set out towards having this school reopened as a means of improving the standard of riding.

Jockeys at the Garrison will not hesitate to tell you that as long as Tony was a sitting steward for a particular day, they could expect to be summoned to be told in no uncertain way that they must be at the top of their profession.  In addition, if they made a mistake during the course of that day, they would be recalled on the very next day to be shown their faults and asked to correct them.  So committed was Tony to this that on several occasions when most people had missed things in a race he came up with something.

For instance, toward the end of the last racing season two jockeys were fined, one for handing his whip to his colleague during the course of a race and the other for receiving it.  Not only did he call up the two jockeys, but he also found the appropriate rule that they had infringed.

Tony Archer served for several years as a steward of the Barbados Turf Club, and he geared himself for this learning all the rules and reading every scrap of information that would improve his capabilities.

 

He was also an open man and was always ready to explain why he had taken a particular decision. He was a hard but fair steward and his one aim was to ensure the highest standards in the sport of horse racing.

 

He was also one of the people responsible for introducing the filming of racing in Barbados, a move which made it easier for the stewards to review a race and see particular incidents.  He made sure they got the appropriate equipment and he used it to the fullest.

 

Tony Archer has passed on and will surely be missed, but he has left behind an excellent example for us to follow.  He was a perfectionist and one must realize that his path would be a hard one to walk.  However, he has shown us that to aim for the best should be our main objective, no matter what we do.

 

For my part, I feel that I had lost not only a friend, but a confidant and one who I could always turn to for advice and support.  In fact, just days before his death we had discussed a project that I was planning and I was on my way home to call him when news of his death reached me.  Tony . . . rest in peace.  You have done your part and all that’s left is for us to emulate you.

 

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Tony Archer died on 14 July, 1984 at the age of 45.  In March 2006, he was inducted into The Barbados Turf Club's Hall of Fame in recognition of his significant contributions to the sport of horse racing in Barbados. 

I am pictured here with our eldest and youngest children, Paul (left)) and Philip (right)

having received the certificate of induction. 

The occasion was reported in the Barbados Sunday Advocate of March 19, 2006

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A reception with executives of the business community at "Ilaro Court",

residence of the Prime Minister of Barbados, 1982.

Prime Minister Tom Adams and his wife Genevieve greeting J.A.K. (Tony) Archer and his wife Valerie

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