Gordon Robinson | Passing of another legend
Legal legend and sports administrator supreme, Pat Rousseau, died last Tuesday.
This is a very sad time. He was one of two private sector businessmen who were the architects of the 1970s’ bauxite levy, but had to sit and watch successive governments piss it away. Few knew Pat’s expertise in the bauxite industry came from his years as Kaiser’s in-house attorney in the late 1950s.
His stint as West Indies Cricket Board (as it then was) president prompted a revolution in cricket administration and marketing which successors also frittered away. His visionary plans as CTL chairman were blocked by bureaucrats so caught up in their imaginary importance, they failed to study the industry they were critiquing.
So, yes, a prophet is not without honour, except in his own country.
But those of us who knew Pat Rousseau will always remember and honour him. His role during almost 60 years at Myers, Fletcher and Gordon (MFG), which he joined on the first working day of 1960, helped to develop that firm into Jamaica’s leader in legal services. Pat excelled in commercial law. His rain-making could break any drought. Unlike some international pretenders, Pat was expert in the art of the deal.
I came to know and befriend Pat at the only place a hermit like me would ever meet someone new. Since he wasn’t a “court” lawyer, we never crossed swords professionally, but we joined hands and hearts at the racetrack. His love for horse racing was exceeded only by his love for Hester, his wife of decades. His horse-racing expertise was international. Like me, he adored English racing.
On the betting side of things, he was more excited about the ‘maths’ of Friday night’s handicapping than the actual Saturday afternoon punt. He could argue the merits of a race’s contenders for hours.
With his closest friend, client and business associate, Mayer Matalon, he formed a partnership (‘Turnbull Farms’, including trainer and friend Paul Newman). They owned many superstars like Kandahar (Mountain Music – Ski Run); Nicois (by British stallion, Nice Guy, out of the French mare, Rosie V); exciting 2,000 Guineas winner Harlequin [by Mr FJC out of top class imported mare Queen Bee, who also threw St Leger winner My Apology and Oaks first-past-the-post She’s A Clown]; 1980/81 1,000 Guineas winners Button Up (Monte’s Stitch-Hatton Garden (Ballyprecious)] and Ricochet [Mr FJC-Black Bullet (He’s a Pistol)] .
Harlequin was one of Jamaica’s best-ever local-bred horses who won the 1977 2,000 Guineas, performed magnificently in the Caribbean Classic, and was voted 1977 Horse of the Year.
Pat and Mayer (with MFG partner and fellow racing enthusiast Noel Levy) founded Mammee Ridge stud farm in South East St Ann. After Mayer’s death, Pat continued, although not with the same intensity. In partnership with Winston Kong, he owned 2004 Oaks winner Keeler (trained by another icon Wayne DaCosta). It was his joy that Keeler was bred at Mammee Ridge by himself and Mayer.
ADVICE TO YOUNG LAWYERS
In 2002, Pat was interviewed by young associate Jahmar Clarke for MFG’s Newsletter. I emphatically endorse his advice to young lawyers just starting:
“Don’t try it alone, join a firm (or Chamber) and learn the requirements. If you’re doing civil litigation, you should have an understanding of accounting. It’s very useful to know and understand basic accounting.”
What he was saying is what I’ve been telling young lawyers too often for their liking and for too long for mine. Don’t be limited by your specialties. You may be a ‘court lawyer’, but your duty is to be a know-it-all. Have a beyond-average grasp of every human endeavour because clients will come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise. If you don’t understand them or their work, the law won’t help you to help them.
Farewell to my friend and colleague, Pat Rousseau. Your contributions to your nation and profession are humongous and indelible. They can’t be erased.
Peace and Love!
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org