- Hundreds of persons turned out on Thursday, October 17, to pay final respects to the late Mayor of Portmore, George Egbert Emmanuel Lee.
- Mr. Lee, who held the distinction of being Jamaica’s and the English-speaking Caribbean’s first directly elected Mayor, passed away on September 29, after a brief illness.
- Many persons turned up at the church well over two hours before the funeral service’s scheduled 11:00 a.m. start, in the hope of getting a final look at the man who was widely referred to as ‘Mr. Portmore’.
Hundreds of persons turned out on Thursday, October 17, to pay final respects to the late Mayor of Portmore, George Egbert Emmanuel Lee, at the Official funeral, held at the Power of Faith Ministries Church, in Portmore, St. Catherine.
Mr. Lee, who held the distinction of being Jamaica’s and the English-speaking Caribbean’s first directly elected Mayor, passed away on September 29, after a brief illness. He was 74.
Initially elected as Mayor in 2003, following Portmore’s attainment of municipal status, Mr. Lee was in his second term in office, which commenced in 2012, when he passed away.
Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who represented Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who is off the island; and Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, headed the list of Parliamentary officials attending the service. Also in attendance were Mayors and other Local Government representatives.
Mr. Pickersgill and Mr. Holness read the First and Second Scripture Lessons, respectively.
Custos of St. Catherine, Hon. Rev. Sophia Azan, headed parish leaders and residents who also attended the service. Also present were students from several schools across Portmore. Several of the youngsters lined sections of the roadway leading to the Church bearing flags, which they waved in tribute to Mr. Lee.
Many persons turned up at the church well over two hours before the funeral service’s scheduled 11:00 a.m. start, in the hope of getting a final look at the man who was widely referred to as ‘Mr. Portmore’, as a result of Mr. Lee’s passion for the municipality’s development.
Glowing tributes in song, dance, and speech honouring the life and work of Mr. Lee flowed abundantly. Family man, hero, visionary leader, people person, politically unbiased, and industrious were some of the accolades used to describe him.
State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, and Member of Parliament for South east St. Catherine, which incorporates sections of Portmore, Hon. Colin Fagan, led the tributes.
Mr. Fagan described Mr. Lee as a ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘strong willed’ person, who devoted his life to Portmore’s welfare.
“As Mayor, he was able to lobby for the establishment of a tax office in Portmore, the placement of (a) Jamaica Public Service Company Limited office in Portmore, land for the building of the Portmore bus park in Naggo Head…(and development of) seven community parks within the municipality, among other things,” he outlined.
The State Minister noted that at the time of Mr. Lee’s passing, he was lobbying for the construction of a permanent municipal office for the council, and establishment of a hospital.
“George Lee was an example to members of both sides of the political divide, as he was always giving of his best (for) the people of Portmore. I am happy that the Portmore Municipal Council named a road (the George Lee Boulevard) in his honour. We have lost a strong leader, and when the history of Portmore is written, his name will be on every page,” Mr. Fagan said.
In her tribute, Rev. Azan said Mr. Lee’s passing has left a vacuum both in Portmore and the nation in general that will be hard to fill.
“He was a dedicated, committed public servant who will be remembered for his unstinting service to local government and certainly one (example) of good governance for the sustainable development of Portmore. His political career and contribution to nation building has left a legacy that will be long remembered,” Rev. Azan said.
Mr. Lee’s sister, Beverly Santouse, who delivered the eulogy, said he was the first of five children for their parents, and held the “most enviable position” as the only boy.
She recounted her father’s decision to also name her brother Emmanuel “because he knew that his son…was destined for greatness…prophecy fulfilled.”
Mrs. Santouse said Mr. Lee was industrious, with a penchant for punctuality, traits which she pointed out underpinned his professional, vocational and philanthropic pursuits in Jamaica and the United States.
She said the late Mayor was a caring family man who loved children and was an active member of the Portmore United Church for over 20 years.
“George was a humble man; he was respected by all he met. The simplest person in the community was George’s friend. He met with Governors-General, Prime Ministers, foreign visitors, and he never lost the common touch. And now that his mission has been completed, he is at rest with his Father,” she added.
Pastor of the Portmore United Church, Rev. L. Christopher Mason, who delivered the Homily, noted the “air of victory” celebrating the life of Mr. Lee, that was evident in the proceedings, throughout the funeral service.
“There (was) no sense of heaviness or spirit of mourning (clouding) the atmosphere today. Rather, it’s the sweet triumph of a life well lived,” he pointed out.
Rev. Mason contended that the life of persons like Mr. Lee “cannot be considered in mere nostalgic terms or simply in personal sentimental reflections.”
“The reach of truly good men transcends the limits of our mortality and continues to make a difference in the lives of those who succeed them. Today we celebrate a life that was well lived, the life of our brother, George Lee,” he added.
The body of Mr. Lee, who is survived by widow, Aneita Lee; daughter, Claudette Lee; three stepsons, Norman, Andrew and Rojah; sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandchildren, great children and other relatives, was interred at Dovecot Memorial Gardens, St. Catherine.