Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Alfred Henry, a stalwart civil servant, dies at 78

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

When Alfred George Henry passed away on January 22, a little more than a month shy of his 79th birthday, he had come a long way from being the inexperienced young man who had travelled from St Ann, his Cambridge school certificates in hand, and a few belongings crammed into a 'dulcimina grip', to take another journey, along the civil-service path in the big city, Kingston.

Henry was a stalwart civil servant, giving some 54 years of his life to national service. He started working as a temporary clerk at the General Post Office, moved on to audit officer at the Auditor General's Department and, because of his impressive performance, was soon promoted to audit manager. He went on to hold other positions of importance and great responsibility, notably as financial controller in the Ministry of Local Government, director of finance in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Public Service, and director of finance and administration in the Office of the Contractor General.

Extensive knowledge and expertise

Henry was often consulted by other departments because of his knowledge and expertise in audit and accounting, and became known for his integrity and for upholding the principles and policies of the Government of Jamaica.

In a tribute to Henry, Ambas-sador Gordon Wells, former contractor general and permanent secretary in several ministries, said: "What one remembers him for especially was his profes-sionalism and integrity. Some members of the junior staff would sometimes complain that he was fussy and demanding, but his senior colleagues were happy with that criticism ... a tribute to his detailed oversight of all for which he was responsible."

Yet, these staff members thought he was able to carry out his duties with "compassion and human kindness", and regarded him as a "decent man" who respected everyone's opinion.

Henry will be remembered for other reasons besides his work: he was an excellent family man; he was always impeccably attired and owned an enviable collection of ties; his quick wit and easy charm; and his collection of completed crossword puzzles, to name a few.

'Freddie', 'Daddy', 'Grandpa Freddy', 'Uncle Freddy' ... Henry will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched, but more so by the love of his life and wife of 49 years, Loris; his two children, Lisa and Lon; his six grandchildren; and other family members.

Friends and family believe Henry is now tallying the figures in a much brighter place, where he might be just as much a stickler for accuracy. Colleagues can almost hear him saying: "No, my dear heart, that can't work at all. I don't want an audit query on my hands."

- Andrea Hoo Fung