Shipping Industry commemorates the life of the Hon Noel Hylton
This is the third and final part of a series covering the Shipping Industry tribute to the Hon Noel Hylton delivered at a service commemorating his life by Mr Charles Johnston honorary board member of the Shipping Association of Jamaica. The service was held at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on March 10, 2018.
Every person whom I've asked to comment on Mr Hylton for this tribute, speaks to his integrity, his humility and his capacity for reliable friendship. Kim Clarke, the immediate past president of the Shipping Association, sums it up beautifully: "On a personal level, Mr Hylton was always someone I could approach to get sound advice. On a business level, I recall my initial interactions with Mr Hylton as he passed along good ideas and strategy. We have lost a visionary and the country has lost a valuable asset. His vision has helped Jamaica's Maritime development to be world class. He will be missed.
And everyone recalls the fact that despite being such an international man who walked with kings, Tony Hylton never forgot the workers whom he considered collaborators in the development of the shipping industry. He always made time for them, and even retirees would find a welcome from him when occasionally they visited him at the Port Authority.
In his years at the port, he succeeded in negotiations because he showed respect to the workers individually and as a collective.
Tony Hart, one of Tony Hylton's closest friends, who recalled his work in building the Montego Bay port and his leadership of Air Jamaica and the Police Services Commission, considered him not only a competent professional, but a "good human being ... sincere, trustworthy, confidential and consistent ... one who took truthfulness, straightforwardness, and integrity seriously.
Mr Hart says: "The greatest tribute we can pay Noel Hylton is to select those good qualities that he possessed and adopt them as our own."
The Port Authority of Jamaica, which he managed for over 40 years, paid him this tribute:
The Honourable Noel Hylton will long be remembered for the impact that he has had on diverse areas of our national life. His unswerving commitment to national development, fuelled by his passion for excellence, was the driving force behind his sterling accomplishments.
Under his leadership, the Kingston Container Terminal grew from strength to strength and was established as the leading container transshipment hub port in the region. Other developments which took place under his watch include the Kingston and Montego Bay Free Zones, Portmore Informatics Park, Falmouth and Ocho Rios Cruise Terminals, Errol Flynn Marina and Boatyard, and numerous port and free zone expansion projects.
Mr. Hylton, at all times had concern for the welfare of his staff and workers in general, championed many a cause in the interest of benefits such as housing, health, education and remuneration, always with an awareness of the impact of economic fluctuations on the wellbeing of staff.
Walk good, Mr Hylton.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
I met Tony in 1967 when he joined the Shipping Association in Downtown Kingston on Port Royal Street. The JIC representatives for the Unions were, at the time, Hugh Shearer, Michael Manley and Hopeton Caven - a strong Union Team with which Tony had to deal. His SAJ supporting team at the time included the persons present at the 66 negotiations, including Paul Scott, Mike Belcher, Geoff Collyer, and a young and green Charlie Johnston.
From that time, I had a strong business relationship with Tony and an even stronger personal friendship. However, On the business side, we did not always agree. In the 1970s, the government of the day formed two national shipping lines - Jamaica Merchant Marine and Jamaica Merchant Marine Atlantic - and in effect, took over the banana shipping business of Jamaica Producers. Tony was a director and later a chairman of these national shipping companies. In the 1980s, however, Jamaica Producers took back the banana shipping business and we were pleased to have Tony sit on the board of this private sector company.
When he became chairman of the Port Authority - which was not only the regulator but the owner of the container terminal - the Port Authority competed with its neighbour Kingston Wharves. We disagreed on this, but he never forgot the Private sector and the SAJ.
Later, Tony welcomed my appointment to the Port Authority board in the 1989, where I remained for many years as a director. During my tenure on the board, Tony developed Port Antonio Marina, Falmouth Pier, Gordon Cay, and commenced the negotiations with CMA Terminal Link, which lead to the privatisation of the terminal in 2016. I must say that the Port Authority director's fees were disgracefully low, the real fees were the lunches - because Tony enjoyed his curried goat and his stewed peas and his oxtail.
He was an unusual Port Man in that he never drank alcohol which used to be a prerequisite for both port workers and management but he was still able to be as convivial as any of us at the port worker's domino games.
We always maintained a close personal friendship. And although my early days of dominoes with him did not continue, I recently played a few sixes with the Three Tonies: Tony Hart, Tony Hylton and Tony Lindo at Good Hope for an advanced domino lesson.
I have had a friend for 51 years, one that I could call on and depend on.
Tony, All of us will miss you.