- Former Government communications specialist and media professional, the late Ralston Smith has been described as a gentle giant, who guided the development of scores of persons in the public relations industry.
- Mr. Smith was a former head of the then Agency for Public Information (API), now the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
- He also headed the latter on different occasions when a new Chief Executive Officer was being recruited.
Former Government communications specialist and media professional, the late Ralston Smith has been described as a gentle giant, who guided the development of scores of persons in the public relations industry.
At a Thanksgiving Service held at the Portmore United Church, in Bridgeport, St. Catherine, on February 7, Government officials, led by Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, and persons from the media fraternity paid their last respects to Mr. Smith, who had a long career in public relations in the public and private sectors.
Mr. Smith was a former head of the then Agency for Public Information (API), now the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). He also headed the latter on different occasions when a new Chief Executive Officer was being recruited.
In her message to the family and friends of Mr. Smith, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said he displayed generosity of spirit and humility, while sharing professional advice to Ministers and Government officials.
“Ralston understood the society, local and international politics, and could always be depended on to give succinct analyses and clear, on-point recommendations for charting a path of improved communication with the people. His contributions to the Government have been immense and enduring,” she said in the message, read by Director of Communications at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Huntley Medley.
For former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, who was represented at the funeral by Dr. Vincent Lawrence, late communication consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, provided long, loyal and “distinguished communication advisory service to me in various capacities during my Ministerial tenure in the 1970s, and after 1989.”
“As my communication advisor, Ralston led the communication team at (OPM) up to the time of his untimely illness in 2001. Public information became the forte of this outstanding graduate of the Jamaica School of Agriculture. He was humble, quiet, unassuming, yet incisive with an amazing physical constitution for long hours of work,” Mr. Patterson said.
Veteran communicator and former Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Mrs. Carmen Tipling, who worked with Mr. Smith at the Public Relations Agency (PRA), told the congregation that his skills brought out the best in people, and got them to listen to his “solid advice,” and they in turn “benefitted from his expertise.”
“Ralston was a planner, and his programmes were always on target. He was an excellent speech writer, and knew the vocabulary, phrasing and tonalities of his clients. And, as brilliant as he was, he was not averse to being edited. He had the ability to bring out the best in people…to see their shortfalls, and assist them to triumph,” Mrs. Tipling said.
Mr. Medley shared with the congregation how Mr. Smith led the way in recruiting him to be Press Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Patterson, in 1996.
Mr. Medley said the “knowledge that Ralston shared, intentionally and unintentionally, could not have been amassed during several lifetimes at university.”
Dr. Carlton Davis, who represented the class of 1959 at the Jamaica School of Agriculture, said the departed media professional was a “person who was comfortable with people with quite differing personalities and views, including political and religious backgrounds.”
Other tributes came from the Portmore United Church; children of the deceased; and Keith Robertson, who did the remembrance. Reverend L. Christopher Mason delivered the sermon.