Fairytale wedding for ‘super step dad’
On Saturday, May 16, The Gleaner told the story of Alexander Lee, the St Catherine amateur singer who fathers eight stepchildren, though he has no known children of his own.
The reaction to the story was mainly commendation and admiration for 'Jerry Butler', as Lee is popularly called.
Telecommunications giant Digicel, it seems, was one of Butler's admirers, so a representative contacted The Gleaner with the intention of getting in touch with Lee.
"When we saw Mr Lee's story in The Gleaner, we were amazed by his selflessness. It's truly inspiring to see a man who is able to give so much of himself, raising his eight stepchildren as if they were his own and with their well-being his priority," said the Digicel representative.
Contact was made, and Lee was invited to a pre-Father's Day luncheon, where he said he thought he would be singing. The date set was for Friday, June 19, at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew.
But when Lee turned up, his common-law wife of many years, Patricia Watson, proposed to him, which he gladly accepted with a smile and a hug. An all-expense-paid wedding, sponsored by Digicel, was only minutes away.
In a brief ceremony officiated by Pastor Sharon Fox-Ricketts and witnessed by eager family and friends, the media and Digicel representatives, the beaming couple said I dos to much applause. After signing the register, they were officially declared man and wife. The surprise worked, and everybody was happy.
It was the culmination of weeks of planning, whispers, and 'secrets' as Watson knew all along what Digicel was up to.
"Patricia has been very excited and grateful from the moment we shared the idea with her. For her, there is no better way to show her love and appreciation for a man who has loved her and her children unconditionally than to make the ultimate commitment to him," said the Digicel representative.
The gesture was graciously accepted, and in a toast to the couple, Nadia Nivens Jarrett, senior advertising manager at Digicel, said the original Gleaner story was the "perfect Father's Day story", for which Digicel was looking.
She congratulated the couple and said Lee's "selfless, unconditional love for his family is extremely admirable".
Other toasts by way of songs and brief speeches were done by some of the couple's children, a church sister, and a friend of the bride. Lee briefly serenaded his bride, while she chose to do a gospel number, being the Christian she is.
The reception, chaired by Terri-Karelle Reid, also saw the presentation to Lee and his stepson, Stephan Fullerton of a framed copy of The Gleaner story that started it all.
"To God be the glory, great things he has done, and I like what happened tonight," Lee told The Sunday Gleaner, as he said thanks to Digicel.
But Lee almost didn't make it to the altar as he was robbed, gun-butted, and tied up in the wee hours of his wedding day on a work site at Queen Hill, St Andrew. He left the Kingston Public Hospital for the altar.
Still in pain from two gashes on his head, he made it through and is now a married man.
Mrs Lee, in reacting to her new marital status, told The Sunday Gleaner, "To be honest with you, there is nothing different from the beginning. I already knew Mr Lee was the love of my life, and we were planning marriage for a long time.
"So now that it has happened, I just want to say thank you people, and I appreciate every moment of it ... . Thank you for what you put in the paper for that helped to bring this thing to where it is right now ... . Thanks for hearing him sing."
The whole affair is just like a fairy tale. It was by chance that this writer heard Lee singing on East Street, right beside The Gleaner's head office and went to have a chat with him about his soulful voice.
One topic led to another and the story about his fathering eight stepchildren. The story ends with: "Love abounds between Lee and her children," she said, "and he's good with them. And for her and the sometime preacher man, wedding bells will be ringing very soon."
But nobody had imagined the bells would have rung so quickly.