Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Brian George, a Caribbean ‘king’ who never lost his soul!

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2016 | 10:07 AMErica Virtue
Keneea Linton-George leaving the St Andrew Parish Church with the urn containing the ashes of her late husband Brian George. She is supported by his sons Matthew (left) and Christopher.
From left: Minister Delroy Chuck, Minister Olivia Grange, Dr Peter Phillips, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the funeral of Brian George at the St Andrew Parish Church.
Keneea Linton-George is overcome with grief as she collects the urn containing the ashes of her late husband Brian George.
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When Brian Reginald Austin George’s trailblazing life came to an end on October 23, it took away the magical love of a husband, broke the bond of marriage between him and his beautiful and devoted wife Keneea Linton-George, and the strong bond of love with his sons, Matthew and Christopher.

The gregarious Trinidadian who made Jamaica his home some 30 years ago brought out prime ministers past and present, past and present Cabinet ministers, businessmen and women, and other dignitaries from Jamaica and around the Caribbean region to the St Andrew Parish Church yesterday.

They came to say goodbye to a man his son Christopher described as having “an unparallelled need to help others” during his tribute to his dad, mentor and friend.

The grieving son, who spoke first, described his brother, Matthew, as his anchor as they determined the order in which they would speak. It was his very first sentence that summed up the man who Jamaicans came to love and respect.

“I would not know my father if he did not share so much of himself with everyone he interacted with because my father belonged to all...” said Christopher George.

He described his father in the words of Rudyard Kipling’s “If you can walk with the crowd and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch...”

The younger George read a tribute from former Prime Minister P J Patterson, who spoke of the late Supreme Ventures boss as one who “left such an indelible impression on our national landscape” since he came to Jamaica 30 years ago.

“He had a depth of character that is rare in our men that left a lasting impression on everyone,” said Christopher, as he stated that there was never a problem too complex for his father to solve. He gave it all his energy. He said that in his father’s 27 years of marriage to his mother, he saw the importance of the family unit, communication and love, which shaped his and his brother’s character. Ma

Matthew shared of a father who had the gift of gab, a family man, and a friend who loved his extended family.

GRIEVING WIDOW

But even as the sons paid tribute to a man they called their king, all eyes were on his grieving widow, Keneea. Bereft of makeup, every tissue of her beautiful face was twisted and contorted with grief. She braved the “thank yous”, as guests came and offered their condolences.

She sat sandwiched between her stepsons, who, at varying points during the funeral service, held her as she broke down when something was said about the love of her life who was gone forever. Keneea hung her head at times, stared blankly ahead at other moments, but was inconsolable during the congregation’s rendition of the first hymn. Her only genuine smile came just before Father Robert Thompson delivered the homily when he said his life was never the same since he met Brian George a decade ago.

Earlier, Keneea’s identical twin sister was moved from beside her as she was mistaken as the widow.

Christopher called her the “love of my dad’s life, Keneea,” describing their love as one of “timing and destiny”. He shared how after suffering a slipped disc, Keneea visited him “the very day in the hospital”, and what he thought was one of the lowest times of his life turned out to be a “blessing”.

Despite knowing each other years before, it was during that time that Brian and Keneea’s love grew, blossomed, and was fulfilled in a storybook marriage in Venice, Italy, where he married his princess and she married her prince, and both became king and queen.

ROMANTIC SIDE

Both brothers reaffirmed their father’s loved for his wife, with Christopher saying it was during his marriage to Keneea that they saw the romantic in him. Matthew thanked her for making their father smile again and for being there through thick and thin. He said her love and devotion to him were all they could ask for.

Queen’s Counsel Walter Scott said family and friends were the only two classes of persons Brian George knew.

“As a business mogul and as president and chief executive officer of one of the largest publicly traded companies in Jamaica, Brian never lost his soul,” said Scott of his friend for many years.

The son of a public servant and diplomat, Brian George attended high school and university in the United States, which provided an eye-opening experience for him and taught him “many life lessons”.

“Brian possessed a most brilliant mind; a mind grounded in arithmetic, science and logic but expanded by literature, poetry, prose and a breathtaking mental agility. The quickness and speed of his mind was Bolt-like. Brian was one of those very rare human beings who had an intellectual depth and breath that was awesome. Yet he was neither pompous nor arrogant,” Scott stated.

Scott expressed how proud George was of his sons and how he loved them “wholly and unconditionally with love as wide as the broad expanse of the skies; limitless”.

Radiance transformed his face when he spoke of them, pride welled up in him when he shared their achievement, and he beamed when he talked of the special, magical, unchained love George had for Keneea.

Brian George was remembered for having an infectious laughter, one who could hold down a joke very well and who had an effervescent personality. His knowledge and understanding of the region, its politics and peoples brought out all to the church to celebrate the man who was regaled as a brilliant, astute, business mogul.

Brian George’s innings came to an end last Sunday – out for 59.

Goodbye, well played, Brian Reginald Austin George.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com