Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal ― The University of the West Indies Open Campus is saddened by the passing of Sir Samuel Weymouth Tapley Seaton, GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, LLD (Honoris Causa), former Governor-General of St Kitts and Nevis.
Sir Tapley was an alumnus of The UWI, an attorney by profession and a regional pioneer. His career over his many years of service included countless trail-blazing accomplishments. He graduated from the Cave Hill Campus in 1973 with the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree and in 1975 with the Legal Education Certificate (LEC), jointly from the Hugh Wooding and Norman Manley Law Schools. He completed a Diploma in French at the University of Bordeaux in France, and qualified as a trained Legislative Drafter from the University of Ottawa.
Sir Tapley had many firsts: he was amongst the first group of graduates in Law from The University of the West Indies; the first in that group to be elevated to Queen’s Counsel in 1988; and the first among his graduating class to be appointed an Attorney-General, in 1980, at the age of 29. The latter fact made him the youngest Attorney General in the Commonwealth. He served as Attorney General of St Kitts and Nevis for 15 years, becoming the longest serving Attorney General in the Region.
Following the end of his tenure as Attorney General in 1995, Sir Tapley spent 20 years in private practice. During that period, he served as a Director of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a member of the Tripartite Committee (Government/Chamber/Trade Union) and a member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. Other numerous professional positions he held which reflected both his expertise and wide-ranging experiences included, President of the St. Kitts Bar Association; the President of the Rotary Club of St. Kitts; the Director of the St. Kitts & Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce; the President of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association, and a former Vice President of the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society.
On September 1, 2015, Sir Tapley was appointed the fourth Governor General of St Kitts and Nevis and was conferred with the Knighthood by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II later that year. During his years in this capacity, he kept educating the public in the fields he was passionate about, that is law, history, and conservation. He served with integrity and was unwavering in his commitment to the people of his country and the Region. Sir Tapley served as Governor General until he demitted office in January 2023.
In October 2019, The University of the West Indies through its Open Campus awarded Sir Tapley with an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree for his service to the public and private sectors. He was a proud Pelican and a strong supporter of The UWI and shared a long and excellent relationship with the institution. He served for many years as the Chair of the Territorial Advisory Committee for The UWI School of Continuing Studies and Distance Education Centre in St Kitts and Nevis. He also served as the Patron of The UWI Global Giving Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis, which was established in 2016 and supported by several notable regional Patrons in their respective countries.
Sir Tapley will be remembered as a statesman, a legal luminary and an icon to not only his nation but to the Region. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr. Francis O. Severin, reminisced that he first met Sir Tapley in 2010 at the Open Campus St. Kitts & Nevis Site, when Sir Tapley served as Chair of the Territorial Advisory Committee. He added, “As Public Orator, I also had the honour and good fortune to have held an engaging and informative conversation with Sir Tapley when I interviewed him in preparation for writing the citation for the award of the Doctor of Laws degree (honoris causa). His love of and gratefulness to his alma mater, The UWI, were inimitable and evident. It was of course not only because he received a high quality education there, which served him for life. More selflessly from his perspective, he viewed the University and the Open Campus in particular, as an indispensable and priceless resource for the Region which it could not do without. He faithfully supported it in cash and kind and encouraged others to do likewise. We will greatly miss this good gentleman of utter integrity and we are more assured in our resolve to persist in opening doors to lifelong learning in honour of his memory and all those stalwarts who passed before him, some quite recently. He will be with us in spirit as we cross the Rubicon to the Global Campus.”
The Open Campus Executive Management Committee extends sincere condolences to the family of Sir Tapley and the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. May he rest in eternal peace.