- Thousands of residents in Western Jamaica turned out on Tuesday, August 5, to pay their respects to the late former Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, whose body lay in state.
- Heading the list were Montego Bay’s Mayor and Chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Glendon Harris, and Custos of St. James, Hon. Ewan Corrodus.
- Speaking to JIS News after viewing the body, Mayor Harris said “Sir Howard was a leader that led from the front.”
Thousands of residents in Western Jamaica turned out on Tuesday, August 5, to pay their respects to the late former Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, whose body lay in state inside the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay.
Heading the list were Montego Bay’s Mayor and Chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Glendon Harris, and Custos of St. James, Hon. Ewan Corrodus.
Ministers of Government, other political representatives as well as persons representing several organizations, uniformed groups, service clubs, the education profession and residents of Sir. Howard’s community of Goodwill, were also out in their numbers.
Speaking to JIS News after viewing the body, Mayor Harris said “Sir Howard was a leader that led from the front.”
He noted that Sir Howard was a stalwart in the field of education where he conceptualized a number of initiatives and got things done for the city of Montego Bay, in particular, and St. James, in general.
In his tribute, the Custos told JIS News that “when Sir Howard passed, we lost a great son… someone that will not be easily replaced.”
“He did a tremendous job here in St. James and was always a people person…someone you could approach, regardless of your status or condition in life. Sir Howard was a true Jamaican,” he said.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, and Acting Agriculture Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said Sir Howard “was really a giant of a man.”
“He never wore his achievements on his shoulder. He went about his business in a dignified way and I think that is how we will remember him…as a man who carried himself in a dignified way…no matter what the circumstances were…on the political hustings or just being part of the Montego Bay community, he gave sound advice to all,” said Mr. Kellier, who is also member of Parliament for South St. James.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for Central St. James, Mr. Lloyd B. Smith, remembered Sir Howard as “a giant of a man.”
He said while the work and worth of the late Governor-General was well known, measures must now be put in place to protect and treasure his memory.
“I believe that there ought to be a distinguishable lasting legacy that is set up somewhere. I know that there are some persons who feel that in today’s modern age, you do not look at a statue. I do believe that there ought to be a monument and it does not necessarily have to be a statue, but something that when it is looked at, you are reminded of the tremendous contribution that Sir Howard made to the Jamaican society,” argued.
Mr. Smith, who chairs a special select committee which has been charged with the responsibility of looking at how best Western Jamaica can secure Sir Howard’s legacy, said “we are looking at a number of things at the moment.”
Educator, Dr. Simon Clarke, recalled Sir Howard’s contribution to the education sector, and saw him as a great inspiration.
“He was a great inspiration to me…I was amazed at his urbanity. He was a very urbane gentleman and despite the fact that he was a politician, he was very gracious to those on the opposite side. One of the first things I noticed about him was that it didn’t matter who the opponent was, Sir Howard was always able to relate to that individual as a brother,” he said.
“Apart from that, he was a great educator…he rose to the highest pinnacle of statesmanship in this land, but never lost the common touch…he never forgot where he came from or those who helped him on the way. If those of us who are following can take just a portion of that, then we would be able to do something important. He was a great human being,” Dr. Clarke said.
Meanwhile, a member of the Indian community in Montego Bay, Indru Dadlani, remembered Sir Howard as the man who taught his late father, B.D. Dadlani, English when he arrived in Jamaica from India in the1940s.
“Sir Howard was like a father…he was a family friend for over 60 years. He was the guest of honour at my son’s wedding. The nation has lost a great father and if the new politicians coming up just take a page out of Sir Howard’s book, Jamaica would be a better place to live, work, do business and raise families,” Mr. Dadlani said.
Niece of the late Governor-General, Kathy Marie Cooke, who affectionately refers to the late Head of State as ‘Papa’, said Sir Howard was “a loving father figure for the family, who always had a ready smile for all.”
“When he hugged you…you absolutely felt hugged…he was understanding, kind and listened to everyone and gave the soundest advice. If you didn’t follow his advice, he did not ignore you…but he would ensure that you know that there was a right way and that you had chosen your own independent path,” Ms. Cooke said.
Former Mayor of Montego Bay and historian, Shallman Scott, remembered Sir Howard for the work he did in getting the now defunct Common Entrance Examination instituted in the nation’s primary schools.
“Sir Howard was a quintessential Jamaican. He was a man of many parts; he was the embodiment of the evolution of Jamaica in terms of economic, political and social developments and was at the centre of the activities for various aspects of those developments. In 1958, Sir Howard was St. James’ representative to the Federal Parliament, and as part of the Jamaica Union of Teachers, it was through his advocacy that the Common Entrance law was passed in 1957, giving an opportunity to the children of less fortunate Jamaicans to have a place in High School and to consolidate the push towards a better standard of education for all,” he said.
Sir Howard served as Governor-General from August 1, 1991 to February 15, 2006. He died at the age of 98 on July 11.
He has been accorded a State Funeral, which takes place on Friday, August 8, at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, 1 George Headley Drive, Kingston, after which his body will be interred in National Heroes Park.