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Hundreds of Jamaicans, including members of government and the opposition, packed the St. Thomas Anglican Church in Lacovia, St. Elizabeth yesterday (Jan.13) to bid farewell to late former Cabinet Minister, Neville Lewis.
Heading the list of dignitaries at the official funeral service were Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who read the first lesson and Opposition Leader Bruce Golding, who gave a tribute. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as various local government representatives, were also in attendance.
Mr. Lewis, who was also a deputy leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was remembered by Mr. Golding, as a passionate servant of the people, who was “always driven by what he thought was right”.
“He was born with a passion for service, a passion for serving people [and] he had a special fire in his heart, especially when it came to the poor and the ignored,” said Mr. Golding.
“One of the things that struck me about him . was the extent to which a problem, which to others of us might have seemed to be . ordinary, became a life issue [for Mr. Lewis]” he stated.
The Opposition Leader also commended Mr. Lewis’ wife, Jasmine, “for the love . loyalty and the care that she gave to Neville, all through (your) married life, but particularly towards the end when he commanded so much attention”.
Meanwhile, in her tribute to her father, Nicole Lewis said that his achievements “are a standout in modern Jamaican politics. Had it not been for him, we would be less aware of the plight of the disabled and their need to have access to public buildings”.
She added “his work helped to relocate victims of the Golden Aged Home fire, he fought for pensioners and made it easier for returning residents to receive their social security cheques”.
In the area of local government, she said, he pushed for the renovation of local markets, so that business people and small farmers would have proper facilities.
She noted however, that for “all the achievements and all the applause, for all the awards and all the commendations, Neville Lewis was a simple man at heart, and he truly did live his . campaign slogan: ‘Neville Lewis the man who cares'”.
Students of the Lewisville High School also paid tribute in song to the late former Member of Parliament (MP), while the second and third lessons were read by Member of Parliament for West Central St. Catherine, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, and Mr. Lewis’ son, Toussaint, respectively. Interment followed on the church grounds.
Mr. Lewis died on December 30, 2006 in Miami, Florida after a prolonged illness. He was 75 years old.
Minister of Social Security from 1980-1983 and Local Government from 1983-1989, he rose to the position of JLP deputy leader in 1981 and held the post until 1993. He was Member of Parliament for North West St. Elizabeth from 1976 until his retirement from active politics in 1993.
During his tenure as MP, Mr. Lewis was known for his grassroots style of politics and was instrumental in the rebuilding of the New Market ommunity “Lewisville” after major floods in 1979.