The Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, was among many Jamaicans who turned out Tuesday (August 4) to view the body of the late Lady Gladys Bustamante at two of her former stomping grounds.
The Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Belmont Road headquarters was sombre in the afternoon (August 4), as persons eagerly awaited their turn to view the body of Lady Bustamante. The widow of National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, she died at the University Hospital on July 25 at the age of 97, after a long illness.
In the foyer was a reminder of why her body was there for public viewing: a plaque on the wall, commemorating the party’s 50th anniversary, described her as “our mother who shared the struggles of Bustamante as his guide and his wife”.
Mr. Golding reaffirmed the description of her as a “mother”, saying she treated members of the party like her children.
“We not only feel the sense of the loss of someone who was so much a part of the foundation of the party, but we feel like we have lost a member of the family and someone who was so supportive, so protective at all times,” he said.
Persons queue at the Jamaica Labour Party’s(JLP) Belmont Road headquarters Tuesday (August 4), to view the body of Lady Bustamante, widow of National Hero, The Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, who died on July 25 and is to be buried on Saturday(August 8) at National Heroes Park.
The Prime Minister recalled how “extremely delighted” she was said to be when she lost her bid for a seat in the 1949 General Elections, after becoming a reluctant candidate at the request of Sir Alexander.
“That wasn’t the stage that she chose. She’s a lady that never relished the limelight. She was always with Sir Alexander, supportive of him…but she was such a powerful woman in her own right. She has done what few people have ever done. She has been able to enjoy and earn the love and respect of all Jamaicans,” he shared.
A former employee at the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Venise Fender, noted that although Lady Bustamante was firm, she was also very accessible.
Long-time friend of the Bustamantes and former Island Supervisor of the BITU and Minister of the Public Service, Cliff Stone, said he first met the couple when they visited Howard University in Washington D.C., while he was a student there. He said that, as a young leader of the Jamaican community at the University at the time, he was inspired to join the BITU and later enter politics.
At the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, on Duke Street, where the body of Lady Bustmante was viewed for three hours earlier Tuesday, the outpouring of love was similar to that observed at Belmont Road.
Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, signs the condolence book for the late Lady Bustamante at the Jamaica Labour Party’s headquarters on Belmont Road today (August 4), after viewing her body. Lady Bustamante, the widow of the late National Hero and Founder of both the Jamaica Labour Party(JLP) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union(BITU), the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante died on July 25 at the age of 97.
Friends, who had worked with Lady Bustamante and Sir Alexander in the trade union, turned out to pay their tribute. One woman refused to leave until the three hours of viewing was up, recalling that it was the last time she would get to see Lady Bustamante.
Former President of the BITU and current Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said nothing could keep him away from viewing the body of the co-founder of the union.
“We owe it to Lady Bustamante. We couldn’t pay her enough and the least we could do is pay her respect in her death,” he said.
Mr. Spencer described her as a friend to everyone, and that she was “the eyes and ears” of Bustamante. He related that one of the things he will remember most about Lady Bustamante is what he described as her quiet dignity.
“She wasn’t loud, she wasn’t abrasive. There was a quietness about her that exuded confidence,” he explained.
Another public viewing of Lady Bustamante’s body is scheduled for Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston. Her funeral will be held at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Liguanea, St Andrew on Saturday, after which she will be buried beside Sir Alexander National Heroes Park.