The remains of Jamaica’s illustrious son, the late Ambassador Dudley Joseph Thompson, noted Pan-Africanist, who passed away in the United States on January 20, a day after his 95th birthday, arrived in the island early this morning (February 2).
As the Caribbean Airlines airbus from Fort Lauderdale touched down at the Norman Manley International Airport, teary eyed Anthony Thompson, son of the late Ambassador, remarked: “This is his trip of all trips!”
This emotional observation aptly captured the flight-filled wide-ranging life and times of the man acknowledged at home and abroad as diplomat, statesman, Pan-African crusader and legal luminary.
Niece of the late Ambassador, Pat Thompson Ramsey, during light conversation on the tarmac, reflected: “You know, it is so strange, I last spoke to him the day before his passing, to wish him happy birthday. I sang to him and then asked him, ‘Do you think you will make the century?’
“He replied: ‘That is not a matter for me… that my dear, is in God’s hands.' I then asked him, ‘Do you think it (longevity) is in the genes?’ He responded: Always keep the flame burning, do not lose the flame!”
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, in Parliament on January 31, announced that Ambassador Thompson would be accorded an official funeral.
Members of the House also used the occasion to pay tribute to the late statesman and diplomat.
The Prime Minister, in her tribute said that Ambassador Thompson's life will not be “measured by the 95 years” of his life.
"He will be remembered for his passion, his wit, his zeal and dedication he brought to his duties. In the year of our jubilee, the most fitting tribute we could pay to Ambassador Thompson is the deepening of our African connection and the completion of our political independence," she declared.
Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, reflected on a meeting with the late Ambassador at a Diaspora Conference in Miami about three years ago.
Mr. Holness expressed amazement that at Thompson’s age, he still had a “sharp mind, very witty, and in the short time that I spent with him I was schooled in many things about politics, about life, about history. It is a pity that some of our younger generation will not get a chance to know him, and I would encourage persons of my generation and younger to seek out the material on this great gentleman."
The official funeral service for Ambassador Thompson will be held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kingston on Friday, February 10, beginning at 2:00 p.m.
His body will be laid to rest in the Briggs Park Military Cemetery, Up Park Camp in Kingston, immediately following the service.
His final resting place is reserved for service men and members of the Jamaica Defence Force. Ambassador Dudley Thompson saw active duties as a Flight Lieutenant during the Second World War. On his return to Jamaica, he became a founding member of the Royal Air Force Association, Jamaica Branch.
A condolence book has been opened at Mico University College, Marescaux Road, Kingston and two additional books were opened on Wednesday, February 2, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dominica Drive, New Kingston and the People’s National Party Headquarters on Old Hope Road in Kingston.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter