Students silently mourn
THERE'S A sombre mood at the Rex Nettleford Hall at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, in light its patron's sudden passing.
The sadness is especially felt by Student Services and Development Manager Donna Mae Jackson, who worked closely with Nettleford.
"When we heard he was ill, it came as a shock. Obviously, we knew him to be fit as a fiddle," she recalled.
"I didn't believe it (his death) to be honest because I had heard rumours before. It was a bad day overall," she said, noting the death of student Patti-Ann Lothian a day earlier. Jackson remembered that 'Prof' always made his presence felt on the hall.
"He was a very busy person, but always found the time for our events," she said. Photos of the hall's various events testify to that, and she pointed out his contribution in everything, from hall colours (maroon and gold, like his alma mater Cornwall College) to the donation of artwork for the hall's multifunctional room. On more than one occasion, Jackson had to catch herself as she started referring to him in the present tense, forgetting he was gone.
She said the students were not in tears, but they are mourning quietly. "They have recognised that an icon has passed." Those sentiments were echoed by second-year hall resident, Topaz Isaacs.
"Many of them would not have seen him face to face, but there was still that link. So, inevitably you will feel some sort of sadness," she said. She expressed regret that she did not get to know him better.
"I guess I took it for granted because we always see him."