Sat | Jun 24, 2017

Raphaelita Walker remembered for her kindness and energetic spirit

Published:Monday | March 20, 2017 | 3:00 AMJodi Ann Gilpin
Ken Boothe (left) performs a tribute in song at the thanksgiving service for Raphaelita Walker, mother of Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, who looks on. The ceremony was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, March 18.

She was described as the 'Black Santa Claus' while she was living in Canada and one who always ended her conversations with 'love you' - character traits of Raphaelita Walker mourners will miss, as her life was celebrated yesterday during a thanksgiving service at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in central Kingston.

Walker, who is the mother of Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, minister of sports, culture and gender affairs, was also hailed for her supportive and energetic spirit, memories that were recalled by the many persons who attended the service, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller, members of the Cabinet, and well-wishers.

Simpson Miller, in her tribute, said she shared a strong bond with Walker.

"Aunt Raph and I had a mother-daughter relationship. She was a real person in every sense of the word. She was warm, engaging and giving," she said.

"I remember one of my visits to Canada, to visit employers and farm workers. Aunt Raph would call me when she thought I was back at the hotel to ensure that I had something to eat. The words 'I love you' and her beautiful smile truly symbolise who she was. She was indeed a lady and a mother," Simpson Miller recounted.

Ambassador Stewart Stephenson shared that Walker's support was instrumental in the success of his tenure as consul general to Canada.

"She was always there to give me guidance, and I can say publicly how grateful I am for the support she gave me during my time as consul general," he told the gathering.

"She had a love for family and she supported my wife and she had a special bond with my son, who is here today (Saturday). She was a strong community leader who was greatly admired by citizens for her grace and dignity. Everyone knows that she is Babsy's mother, but politics never overshadowed the relationships and bonds she formed. It was always Jamaica first."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com