Those we lost in 2014
Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
2014 has gone, never to return, and it has taken with it many notable people to the 'Great Unknown'. They have made the transition, but their essence, impact, cause and contribution are still with us.
Mario Deane and Kamoza Clarke
Locally, the poignancy surrounding the brutal end of Mario Deane and Kamoza Clarke is still stark. Under tragic circumstances they have departed, but their passing has not gone unnoticed in more ways than one. Will the law take its course?
Helping to enact laws was one of the things Syringa Marshall-Burnett spent her life doing. The former nurse cum senate president was one of three from the political arena who went into another realm. Another was former Governor General Sir Howard 'Teacher' Cooke.
Sir Howard Cooke
Sir Howard Cooke, a giant of an educator from the west, had been in retirement for a while before 2014 took him. His achievements in life were fitting for a knight. A funeral for a king was his. Now, in sweet repose he lies among a circle of heroes.
To a Gordon House veteran, the 'grim reaper' went, from a former King's House's resident. And Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke's demise was the biggest shocker of them all. The news almost bowled us over. Some people buckled under. Much laughter he has provided, and memories of his colourful persona are lingering way over yonder.
John Holt and Bunny Rugs
From the stage of entertainment, the coach of sorrow took away ska, rocksteady and reggae sensation John Holt, and Third World's William 'Bunny Rugs' Clarke. But the impact of their different musical styles may never die.
Philanthropist Raymond Chang, Order of Jamaica and Order of Canada, spent his life giving. He didn't die on the 'Rock', but to it he has given back. St George's College, Missionaries of the Poor Jamaica, and others can attest to that.
In October, it wasn't business as usual for Francis 'Paco' Kennedy, as his heart failed him. The then Jamaica Chamber of Commerce president and retired GraceKennedy executive died in Florida a week after he should have officially received his Order of Distinction.
The areas of communications and media saw the passing of one of their own when veteran journalist Clare Forrester died in September. Forrester had a long and distinguished career in journalism and communications. She was a life member of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), and was inducted into the PAJ Hall of Fame in 2012.
Overseas, the obituaries were replete with the names of 'famous' people, some of whom were well-known locally. Comedian Robin Williams' suicide was no joke and the news was devastating to fans worldwide. The Mrs Doubtfire star kept them crying nonstop.
Other entertainers for whom the final curtains were drawn were actress Lauren Bacall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mickey Rooney, former child star Shirley Temple, Sid Caesar, Eli Wallach, two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer, popular leading man James Garner, stage and screen star/civil rights activist Ruby Dee.
Richard Attenborough, director of Gandhi, also transitioned to the other side. And Hollywood gossiper Joan Rivers finally went silent at 81.
In government and politics, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, comatose for years, departed, along with General Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland and Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia. Former Haitian dictator, Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, had no power over death. Nor did former Washington, DC, Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr.
The field of literature sobbed over the exit of phenomenal woman Maya Angelou. She was an actress, writer, poet, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programmes. Her very interesting life inspired the movie, I know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Nobel laureates, the South American Garcia Marquez, and South Africa's Nadine Gordimer, and P. D. James, the celebrated British mystery writer, too, write no more.
The list of the departed for 2014 is also inscribed with Alice Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, in the high jump in 1948. To fashion icon Oscar de la Renta, who clothed the rich and famous, we also say goodbye.