Journalists: BC's legacy will live on

BC Pires. - Mark Lyndersay
BC Pires. - Mark Lyndersay

A family man, captivating storyteller and the embodiment of resilience are how friends and family of Basil Carlos "BC" Pires will remember him.

They believe the long-time journalist will continue to live through his extensive catalogue – his legacy.

Pires – fondly called Baz – died on Saturday after a year-long battle with cancer of the oesophagus. He was 65.

A true Caricom man, he was born in Guyana, raised in St Ann's, Trinidad and Tobago, and later lived in Barbados.

In TT, he began his career as a lawyer but later opted for journalism and had written for the Newsday, the Express and the Guardian and the Independent.

His popular columns Thank God It's Friday (TGIF) and Trini/Bago to D Bone have had a home at the Newsday in recent years.

He was also the editor of Cre Ole – a restaurant guide.

Pires was quite open about the struggles that came with his illness, regularly updating readers on his health.

For instance, in the September 29, 2023 edition of TGIF titled Chances are thin, he spoke about losing 20 pounds in 24 days. He moved from 125 pounds at the start of September to 105 at the end of it.

BC Pires and his family, Rosie, Ben and Carla at his 60th-birthday celebrations, August 2018 - Mark Lyndersay

And still, he managed to find humour in the midst of his pain.

"If Stephen King needed to recast a body double for Robert John Burke’s lead role in King’s 1996 horror film Thinner, he’d have needed to look no farther than me," he wrote.

And on October 13, he wrote that his knees were the biggest part of his legs.

"For the last couple of weeks, nights have been closer to sleepless than rejuvenating...Remember how breathless you were at the end of your own last coughing fit? There is nothing that puts the flourish on exhaustion like sitting on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet for support and gasping for air."

And he still kept going.

Tributes pour in

His brother Joe Pires posted on Facebook that they spoke on Saturday, and he let Pires know "what a tremendous influence he had on my childhood and thanked him for just being there."

Joe thanked Pires' wife Carla Castagne, and children, Rosie Castagne-Pires and Ben Pires, "for being his support and rock.

"His number one priority was always his family – something he tried to instil in the rest of us.

"Rest in peace, my brother. See you on the other side."

Appeal Court judge James Aboud wrote in a Sunday Newsday piece titled BC Pires, God and me that his best friend was immortal.

"Your influence on my life, for however long our lives last, will never be forgotten. I love you and will always treasure you. Brothers forever. And ever."

President of the Media Association of TT (MATT) Ira Mathur said Pires fought hard, with humour and endless hope.

He gave us so much. I don’t even know where to start," she said.

Recalling seeing him about a month ago, she said he told his "usual amazing stories" of columns and his childhood "of kicksy times and epiphanies.

"No moment with BC was ordinary. Everything he did or said connected with our hearts or minds, politics and lives."

Newsday editor-in-chief Camille Moreno said Pires' columns were inclusive and insightful.

"He knew how to capture the human spirit in his writings. His work will live on in the stories he told.

"Newsday extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends in the media."

Newsday editorial consultant Judy Raymond said she admired Pires as both a writer and a person.

"It was an honour to have him in our pages. He used hyperbole, humour and sarcasm to hold a mirror up to TT in his column, in the hope of shocking the country into facing the facts and mending its ways."

Fellow Newsday columnist Mark Lyndersay took photos for Pires' Trini/Bago to D Bone column.

Lyndersay said they had known each other for years and grew closer over the last two decades.

"He started off by hailing me out as 'MacDude,' usually when he was having a problem with his computer. Then, when he came to Newsday as a columnist and pitched a revival of his column Trini to the Bone, we grew tighter after I offered to do the photographs to accompany his weekly as-told-to exploration of what makes the people of TT special."

Lyndersay said they had spoken every week since January 2019 and in the last three weeks, "I had an overwhelming sense of his pending mortality, not because of anything he said, but because of everything he didn't.

"BC let everyone know that his illness had taken a turn for the worse in his last columns. He did so with the same casual, witty frankness that had been the hallmark of his writing from the beginning of his journey as a journalist, but the end is always a shock and an occasion for sadness.

"BC was a man of love, despite his hallmark acerbic wit.

"He's gone now, but he isn't. His vast body of work, preserved on his website, remains. I am tremendously pleased to have been a part of it."

BC was loved, respected

Journalist Wesley Gibbings first met Pires in the 1980s at the Express. While they did not interact much on assignments, he said, they were "smoking pals...

"This gave us a chance to bond on matters beyond the news and public affairs agenda. It led to a friendship that endured right up to days before his passing.

"He had literary powers in excess of the average bright guy, and a mind that seemed to be unburdened either by the banalities of simple public logic or by hifalutin' doctrine. Latterly as a pun master, he was known to share blows with the best online exponents."

Gibbings said they spoke more frequently when he became ill and "for the first time, I witnessed his intellectual powers challenged by, for him, a rare sense of vulnerability.

BC Pires (left) and Wesley Gibbings. - courtesy Gibbings

"'Extending lots of love and respect'" was my last text to him. This message stands."

Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal praised Pires as "bringing to life" issues of current affairs and social, economic and political ones.

"He will be missed. He has left quite a legacy...We are extremely proud to have known him."

Denise Deonarine, general manager at the Filmmakers Collaborative (Filmco), said the organisation was "deeply saddened."

"BC had been an integral part of the TT Film Festival's programming committee with his wit.

"He was with us this year to the end , while valiantly fighting his health battles...It's really hard to accept this news."

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

This story was originally published with the title "Long-time columnist BC Pires, 65, dies after year-long cancer battle" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

LONG-TIME columnist Basil Carlos "BC" Pires has died. He had been battling cancer of the oesophagus.

He died on Saturday, surrounded by his family in Barbados.

Born in Guyana, Pires – fondly called Baz – was raised in Trinidad and Tobago, where he began a career as a lawyer but later opted for journalism.

He continued along this career path for many years, even after moving to Barbados.

He had two weekly pieces in the Newsday – his Thank God It's Friday (TGIF) column, and the Trini/Bago to D Bone profile.

He leaves behind his wife, Carla Castagne, and his children, Rosie and Ben.

He was diagnosed with cancer in September 2022.

Pires was 65.


"Journalists: BC’s legacy will live on"

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