Family, friends, former colleagues, and well wishers bade farewell to late educator and administrator, Dr. the Hon. Joyce Robinson, during Friday’s (May 31) Official Funeral at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Chapel in St. Andrew.
The prevailing grey skies and inclement weather paled into insignificance, as warm and glowing tributes flowed from the various speakers, filling the historic Chapel, as they paid tribute to the outstanding Jamaican icon.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips , who represented Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; and Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, who read the First and Second Lessons, respectively, headed the wide cross section of persons who turned out to pay their respects.
Dr. Robinson, who was described as the quintessential leader and a passionate advocate for libraries and literacy, passed away on May 12, at the age of 87.
In his tribute, Chairman, Human Employment and Resources Training (HEART) Trust, Moses Peart, said Dr. Robinson was a humble Jamaican, who spent her life serving her country and people.
“She was a very effective leader, who was always serving. She was a strategic thinker, who was always very organised in her duties, and she was a caring person, who exemplified motherly love,” he stated.
Mr. Peart noted that Dr. Robinson was devoted the development and growth of all Jamaicans, as demonstrated through her involvement in the implementation of a number of skills training organisations.
These, he said, include: the Stony Hill Academy for Commercial Skills; Portmore Academy for Construction Skills; Kenilworth Academy for data entry skills; Ebony Park Academy for agricultural skills; the HEART School of Cosmetology; and the Leap Centre for training of youth deemed at-risk and unattached.
“Amazing, extraordinary, and phenomenal” were just some of the accolades used by Jamaica Library Service (JLS) Chairman, Paul Lalor, to describe Dr. Robinson.
He noted that the name Joyce Robinson is inextricably linked to the history and development of the JLS.
He informed that having previously served as a volunteer at the St. Elizabeth Parish Library, Dr. Robinson joined the organisation as a Senior Library Assistant in 1950, contributing significantly to the JLS’ development until she was seconded to the National Literacy Programme in 1973.
“Through hard work and determination, she quickly rose through the ranks to, not only become the first local member of staff to qualify as a Librarian, but also to become the first female and the first Jamaican Director of the JLS,” he informed.
Mr. Lalor said under Dr. Robinson’s leadership, the JLS expanded from a nucleus of five libraries to an inter-island network of main libraries in every parish capital. He said the expansion also saw book centres and branches being established in urban, sub-urban and rural areas; mobile library services being provided in remote rural areas; and libraries being opened in the majority of government schools.
In a heart-warming eulogy, Dr. Robinson’s sister, Carolyn Allen, said she was “wholeheartedly proud” of her.
“You have made us very proud, Joyce; but now we have to manage without you…We thank God for sharing (your) life with us and fond memories of (you) will always be cherished,” she stated.
Also speaking in remembrance of his mother, Anthony Robinson, said in spite of the many accolades and praises showered on Dr. Robinson, to him, she was just “Mummy”.
“Her love and care for her family and friends are her greatest legacy. Make no mistake, we her children, were her greatest pride and joy,” he said.
Dr. Robinson was a former teacher and Principal of the Black River High School in St. Elizabeth; former Director of the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) and the Jamaican Movement for Adult Literacy (JAMAL), now the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL); former General Manager of the defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), now Television Jamaica (TVJ); and former Director of the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART).
She was also active in a significant number of voluntary service-related organisations. These include: the National Council on Libraries; Archives and Documentation Services; Jamaica Library Association; Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO; Institute of Jamaica; Foundation for International Self-Help; Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Jamaica; and Soroptimist Club of Jamaica.
CONTACT: ATHALIAH REYNOLDS-BAKER