It is with a sense of deep sadness that I pay tribute this afternoon, on behalf of the government, people of Jamaica and the People’s National Party, to a distinguished patriot and politician, whose work and service spoke loudly of excellence and commitment. One who must easily be numbered among Jamaica’s most outstanding sons – Ambassador the Hon. Dudley Joseph Thompson.
Dudley, by virtue of his education, discipline, and dedication, was a powerful and respected force, locally and internationally.
Throughout his life he excelled at everything that he did, and has left a legacy, which we can best honour by continuing the cause of humanity to which he dedicated his life.
I am exceedingly proud to have known and worked with him, and I have certainly benefited from our long association.
A Rhodes Scholar and a lawyer, he rose through the ranks of the People’s National Party – from ordinary member to Chairman, and was made a life member in recognition of his outstanding service to the Party.
He was a committed party man to the very end and we will miss his passion for, and his interest in our people and Jamaica’s development.
Dudley gave distinguished public service as a Senator, Member of Parliament, Leader of Government Business, Minister of State, and at different times Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs, Mining and Natural Resources, and National Security.
He will be remembered for his significant contribution to the Parliament and the development of our country.
He gave distinguished representation to the people of Western St. Andrew; and was firm and unwavering in empowering people with the tools for self-development.
He was a fiery and feisty legislator, and the records of Parliament contain numerous accounts of his exchanges in defence of the people.
But he was also quite witty. In his introduction (in 1974) of a Bill to ‘Amend the Minimum Wage Law’, Dudley remarked:
“I am introducing a Bill which perhaps I am too optimistic from past experience, to feel will be a non-confrontational issue, but I have long ago despaired that anything in this Senate can be known as a non-confrontational issue.
Even if it is a Bill to introduce free passage to Heaven for all members of the Senate, there would be discourse on the order of priority.” [End quote]
Dudley was like an unruffled pool of strength, wisdom, knowledge and efficiency; exuding passionate intensity in his concern for the training and development of our people.
My last public encounter with Ambassador Thompson was at the Conference of Intellectuals on the African Diaspora in Brazil.
I still recall his unfettered joy as he jumped up to applaud, during and after my presentation.
Wearing his famous, broad 'Dudlian' smile, he expressed his delight, about the warm reception that my presentation had received, from those gathered.
That was Dudley, warm, honest, sincere, and always prepared to encourage others to do well.
He was my friend for over four decades. He often referred to me as “my daughter”; and I always felt assured of his love and support.
Despite our busy schedules we kept in touch. He was never far away.
He called often, and when he could not get through to me personally, he would leave messages with my husband.
During the recent election campaign, he kept abreast of the political issues and was never short on advice.
After the elections, he emailed a congratulatory letter to me, and said that he wanted to return home to lend his wisdom and support to the new administration. This I would have gladly welcomed.
I will miss him dearly. I will miss his encouragement. I will also miss his jokes, and his quick turn of phrase.
To his dear wife Cecile, his children, and other members of his family, I express sincere condolences on behalf of all Jamaica.
I am grateful to the family, that they shared him so generously with Jamaica and the rest of the world.
Family members, I hope you will be comforted in the fact that he lived long and he lived well.
In moments like these, it is important to remind ourselves of the words, as written by a poet, some years ago:
They are not dead,
Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.
They still live in our hearts,
In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.
They still smile in the moonlight’s silver,
And laugh in the sunlight’s sparking gold.
They are not dead;
Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.
They are not apart from us, but part of us, For love is eternal.
Walk good my friend, my brother and Comrade.
You will remain in our memory as a man of excellence, who served his country, the region and beyond, with wholehearted dedication, dignity and professionalism.
May you be greeted on the other side with the sweet sound of the celestial trumpet.
May his soul rest in peace.