Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Brian George's death leaves business community in shock

Published:Monday | October 24, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Brian George
Brian George
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Western Bureau:

Before his sudden death yesterday, Brian George was leading one of the most significant projects at the National Health Fund (NHF) - to deliver prescription drugs through private pharmacies surrounding the country's public hospitals.

"Rather than have people waiting in lines for long hours at the public hospital pharmacies, he was leading a charge to give them access to the private pharmacies, making a difference in their lives," NHF Chairman Chris Zacca told The Gleaner yesterday morning, hours after George, his vice-chair, died at Andrews Memorial Hospital in

St Andrew.

George, president and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), was expected to meet with other members of the NHF at their monthly meeting this morning.

"It will be a very difficult and emotional meeting for all of us," said a shocked Zacca, describing George as a gentleman who had contributed significantly to his adopted country.

Born in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, George, who became president of SVL in 2003, had the ability to find solutions to complex problems, even while rallying those around him.

"His death has left a deficit in terms of leadership in the private sector," added Zacca.

George's death sent shock waves throughout the business community, leaving members of the SVL family mourning and also speechless. A media release from the organisation said George had been battling illness for some time, but continued daily to discharge all of his duties to SVL.

"We are just trying to come to terms with this significant loss. We will miss him beyond words," said SVL Chairman Paul Hoo.

Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender affairs, entertainment and sport, said: "Brian was a proud Trinidadian and also a great friend of Jamaica. He offered such outstanding support to Jamaican sports, culture, and other critical areas of national development, over the years - not only through the lottery company which he so ably led."

REGION POORER

As tributes poured in for the astute, creative thinker, who was known to be sharp-minded, humble and decent, his friend of more than 12 years, attorney-at-law Walter Scott, said Jamaica and the Caribbean would be poorer for his untimely passing.

"He had one of the brightest minds I had ever met in my lifetime. Not only in book sense, but intellectually, and (he was) articulate in a way that was almost frightening," said Scott.

Proud of his association with George, Scott had rich admiration in his voice when he spoke of the depth of knowledge of the late SVL president. Lauding George's stewardship, Scott said it was under his leadership that the SVL grew to be the giant it is today.

"His will be a very hard act to follow, as he was one of those CEOs who was both shrewd and visionary, but at the same time the most compassionate and generous."

A really good man was how Scott concluded his description of George, for whom he served as best man at his wedding in 2010.

His comments were bolstered by Montego Bay businessman, Ian Dear, chairman and CEO of Margaritaville Caribbean.

Still in a state of shock when contacted by The Gleaner, Dear spoke glowingly of a fair and balanced man in his business dealings.

"I feel privileged to have known him," he said.

George, the father of two sons, Christopher and Matthew, fell in love with Jamaica after moving here years ago to work. He also fell in love with Jamaican fashion designer Keneea Linton, whom he later married in a fairy-tale wedding in Venice, Italy.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com