Bipartisan farewell for Ambassador Marjorie Taylor
The consistent torrential rain was not enough to prevent the large turnout of family members, colleagues of the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), friends and residents of Port Royal, who packed into the historic St Peter's Church to bid farewell to former ambassador for children's affairs, Marjorie Taylor, last Friday.
The inclement weather was also not enough to dampen the glowing tributes that flowed from her close-knit family and high-ranking representatives of both the JLP and the PNP, which she staunchly supported and represented as councillor, member of parliament (MP) for the East Kingston and Port Royal constituency, senator and minister of state in the local government ministry.
Kingston-born Taylor, who studied surveying and building technology, was the first female building officer in the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and later served as special assistant to Prime Minister Michael Manley, was eulogised as a family matriarch, people person, champion of children's rights and PNP loyalist.
Among the recurring attributes ascribed to her by speakers representing her family and friends was her caring, gentle disposition that endeared people to her.
Following several pre-service tributes, including from her alma mater Camperdown High School, during the service tributes were delivered by several PNP officials, including party president and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, vice-president and eastern St Thomas MP Fenton Ferguson, PNP Women's Movement president Jennifer Edwards, and former South St Andrew MP Omar Davies.
Phillips, in his tribute, described Taylor as a heroine of the PNP who rose from group secretary to several high offices.
"This unapologetic daughter of downtown Kingston served the PNP all her adult life with distinction, always putting the interest of the party above personal considerations," said Phillips.
Minister of Local Government and JLP Deputy Leader Desmond McKenzie also paid tribute in one of the highlights of the moving thanksgiving service.
The former mayor of Kingston, clad in an orange tie and matching breast pocket piece, which he said was in tribute to Taylor, emphasised her significant contribution to local government and to the KSAC, as a member of staff who joined the city engineer's department in 1971.
McKenzie recalled Taylor's genuine interest in the people of western Kingston and her visits to the area with him to speak with the people, including schoolgirls.
The remembrance and eulogy was done by current East Kingston and Port Royal MP Phillip Paulwell, who succeeded Taylor in that seat.
Paulwell used the opportunity to announce the renaming of the Paradise Street Health Centre in the constituency in honour of Taylor, as well as the establishment of the Ambassador Marjorie Taylor Memorial Teen Mom Scholarship.
The East Kingston and Port Royal MP in the remembrance detailed Marjorie Taylor's selfless service to the constituency, her loyal support to the PNP and the critical role she played as assistant and political organiser for Michael Manley.
He recalled Manley's introduction of Taylor to the late Cuban president Fidel Castro as his "eyes and ears".
"Working in many and diverse roles, Marjorie championed the progressive and transformative agenda of leader Manley and later P.J. Patterson," said Paulwell, as he pointed to her role in developing policies such as maternity leave with pay, the enrolled nurses programme, the Caribbean Committee report on the UN Goals for Children, the modernisation of children services, the Child Care & Protection Act, as well as her chairmanship of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Social Policy in the Americas.
"In addition to her sterling contribution to Jamaica, Marjorie Taylor represented our country internationally with dignity, pride and great honour," Paulwell noted.
Moving reflections were shared by Taylor's grandson Maleek Pommel, daughter Makeda Williams on behalf of Marjorie Taylor's five adopted children, her nephew Damion Johnson and cousin Sonia Neil.
The service was punctuated with musical tributes by the Universal Centre of Truth, Michael Sean Harris and Ashe, Dimario McDowell and Dwight Richards.
Lessons were read by former prime ministers and PNP presidents P.J. Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller.