PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller said yesterday that she will miss Roger Clarke's "wise counsel, his tremendous sense of duty to public life and his outstanding contribution to agriculture".
Clarke, the country's agriculture minister and close confidant of Simpson Miller, died in Miami, Florida, yesterday.
"He was loved by Jamaicans from all walks of life. His caring, gentle and compassionate spirit was matched by his generosity, good humour and laughter - it is hard for us to be sad when Roger Clarke was a man who brought laughter to so many of us," the prime minister said of the 74-year-old Clarke.
Clarke, who was on leave from official duties to undergo surgery in the United States for a back condition, was described by the prime minister as "a special kind of person - a one-of-a-kind politician who was loved not only by members of his party but people on the other side".
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said Clarke will be "greatly missed by all of us who will forever remember his winsome personality, ready wit, humility and kindheartedness". He added, "We shall always recall his commitment to building agriculture and his conviction that the sector could be the key to unlock economic opportunities for Jamaica."
Lost a colourful stalwart
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson said that with the passing of Roger Clarke, "our nation has lost one of our most colourful political stalwarts who devoted so much of his own life to the service of his country and people".
"He belonged to a special breed of Jamaicans," Patterson said while adding that "self-importance or arrogance was not in his DNA".
Patterson said that while Clarke was always willing to take advice from the professional and technical staff in his ministry, he never shied away from making bold decisions based on his own practical experience and innate common sense.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness: I am deeply saddened at the passing of our colleague and friend Roger Clarke. He is the most affable politician I know. Blessed with wit and infectious sense of humour, he was able to make us laugh at ourselves even in the midst of contention. Roger will be remembered as a people person, kind and caring. He was able to cut across political boundaries and his respect and love as a person, and politician is universal in Jamaica.
Elizabeth Lee Martinez, charge d'affaires, US Embassy, Kingston: He demonstrated leadership in many trade and development agreements between Jamaica and the United States, proving his passion for the sector and Jamaica as a whole. We are thankful for the opportunity to have worked closely with Minister Clarke.
Christopher Zacca, PSOJ President: "He was a very jovial man and we had a good working relationship. He was also passionate about the advancement of the agriculture sector, being a farmer himself. We are truly saddened at the news of his passing,"