Hundreds Bid Farewell to Derrick Rochester

Photo: Glenis Rose Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, gives a word of comfort to Custos of St. Elizabeth, Beryl Rochester, widow of late trade unionist and former Member of Parliament for South East St. Elizabeth, Derrick Rochester. The occasion was the official funeral service for Mr. Rochester held at the Richard B. Roper Auditorium at Munro College, St. Elizabeth on May 1.

Story Highlights

  • Hundreds of persons from all walks of life turned out to pay their final respects to late trade unionist and political representative, Derrick Rochester at the Official Funeral service held on May 1.
  • Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J Patterson, in a tribute read by Member of Parliament of North West Manchester, Mikael Phillips, noted Mr. Rochester’s contribution to several laws to improve the welfare of workers.
  • Mr. Rochester was the recipient of national awards, including the Order of Jamaica.

Hundreds of persons from all walks of life turned out to pay their final respects to late trade unionist and political representative, Derrick Rochester at the Official Funeral service held on May 1.

Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, headed the mourners gathered at the Richard B. Roper Auditorium at Munro College in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, to bid farewell to the native of the parish and mark a life well lived.

There were tributes in song and the spoken word from friends and family members, and Bible readings by the Governor-General and Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Derrick Smith, who represented Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, in her tribute, said the late former South East St. Elizabeth Member of Parliament made an indelible mark on the political, economic and social landscape of the parish.

She noted that as a trade unionist, he dedicated his life to advancing the cause of the Jamaican worker. She said he was the first worker-delegate to rise to the presidency of the National Workers’ Union (NWU) and had the honour of holding the offices of President and Island Supervisor of the NWU at the same time.

Mrs. Simpson Miller also hailed his years of service to both Houses of Parliament, noting that he was a fine example of decency and decorum, while being active in debate and vigorous in his representation of the people.

Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J Patterson, in a tribute read by Member of Parliament of North West Manchester, Mikael Phillips, noted Mr. Rochester’s  contribution to several laws to improve the welfare of workers.

These include the Maternity Leave Law, the Minimum Wage Act, the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, the Employment Termination and Redundancy Payment Act, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, and The Holiday With Pay Act.

“One could find no better, more passionate advocate than Derrick Rochester,” he said.

Community member, Heather Murray, in eulogising the man affectionately called “Daddy D”, highlighted his contribution to education and community development.

He established a vocational training centre, which was renamed in his honour in April 2013, and spearheaded the construction of the Junction Health Centre, donating the lands and raising funds for the project.

“His approach to community development saw him nurturing self-reliance and fostering non-partisan involvement of citizens to accomplish goals,” Ms. Murray noted.

Mr. Rochester served as South East St. Elizabeth Member of Parliament from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1989 until his retirement in 2002. He was Senator from 1980 to 1983.

He was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, with responsibility for worker participation from 1976 to 1980, and a Minister of State in the Ministry of Mining and Public Utilities, 1993-97.  He was President of the NWU from 1989 to 1993 and served as Island Supervisor from 1986 to 93.

Mr. Rochester died at his home in Bull Savannah on April 9, after ailing for several months. He was 76 years old.  His widow, Beryl Rochester, is Custos Rotulorum for St. Elizabeth.

Mr. Rochester was the recipient of national awards, including the Order of Jamaica.

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