The Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, has said that with the passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Jamaica and the Caribbean have not only lost an entrepreneur extraordinaire but a man who demonstrated deep care for his country.
“He was an unblemished patriot with a great passion for doing something extraordinary for Jamaica and there was no political divide in his embrace of his country. He had a genuine love of the Jamaican people and so he called everyone ‘sweetheart’ which also underlined the great sense of humor for which he was known.
Mr Stewart died last night in the United States at the age of 79.
Minister Grange said that as Mr Stewart built an empire he also found the time and provided material resources to assist Jamaica in ways that perhaps no other Jamaican can match.
“His contribution to the development of our tourism is legendary but along with it has been the treatment of those who were his employees in the Sandals Group; employees at every level of the organisation enjoyed the same kind of treatment.
“And no one could reasonably accuse the Sandals Group of gender bias as men and women were equally employed in all positions throughout his companies.”
Minister Grange said also that Mr Stewart had insisted that local cultural musical groups should perform at the Sandals properties regularly and craft vendors invited to ply their trade on the beaches of the hotels.
“Butch was caring and appreciated Jamaican talent and craft which he showcased as one of the pioneers in the hotel industry.
“He never forgot his humble beginnings and those who were there with him. That is why I truly appreciated and respected him. He had a heart of gold.
Personally, he always had a word of encouragement for me which inspired me and made me feel appreciated.
“At the end of the day, he always wanted to be remembered as someone who had tried his best. He epitomized the true Jamaican sprit.
“We say goodbye to Butch Stewart with hearts laden with sadness. We will for a very long time mourn his passing but so too will we never forget his accomplishments on our shores and beyond. We give thanks for and celebrate his life.
“I offer most sincere condolences to his family, friends and associates.
“Rest in peace great son of Jamaica; Gordon Arthur Cyril ‘Butch’ Stewart.”