Wed | Jan 16, 2019

An inspirational life - Mayer Matalon: March 3, 1922-February 3, 2012

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Mayer Michael Matalon's grandchildren carry the coffin containing his body after the service of thanksgiving at the Sha'are Shalom Synagogue on Duke Street in downtown Kingston yesterday. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer
Valerie Facey greets Joseph M. Matalon during yesterday's service of thanksgiving for his father, Mayer Michael Matalon, at the Sha'are Shalom Synagogue

Mayer Matalon, arguably Jamaica's most lauded businessman, was laid to rest yesterday at the Jewish Cemetery on Orange Street following a service of thanksgiving at the Sha'are Shalom Synagogue in Kingston.

Hundreds of mourners attended the synagogue on Duke Street in downtown Kingston to pay their respects to the brilliant business leader, financier and negotiator, who contributed significantly to the development of Jamaica across multiple sectors.

The service started at 3 p.m., moments after high profile members of Jamaica's political community took their seats at the expansive synagogue that was built nearly a century ago.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller sat on the platform alongside two of the service's officials and listened to tributes given to the 89-year-old, who was often referred to by friends as 'the Patriarch'.

"He always challenged managers to prove themselves," said Patrick Rosseau, a friend and former colleague of the late businessman, who also described Matalon as a "loving husband" and "an excellent communicator".

Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies told mourners anecdotes of his professional relationship with the businessman, adding that it was a personal honour to have been asked by the Matalon family to give a tribute.

"It was my distinct honour to have known and worked with Mayer," said Davies, who spoke of a man who "lived a full life".

The final tribute was given by Mayer's only son, Joseph, who started his speech with a caveat.

"Mayer had a particular dislike for long speeches, so I will be brief," said the incumbent president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

Hallmark of the man

He described his father as a "committed husband", "role model" and "inspiration" who was "utterly committed to his wife of more than 60 years and devoted to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren".

"Love, empathy, wisdom and generosity. That was the hallmark of the man," said his son, adding that his father was "a brilliant and dynamic mentor" and his "closest friend," who had "a binding love for, and a commitment to his country".

Mayer Matalon died last Friday, after his health deteriorated following a heart attack in September 2010 and a series of strokes. He is survived by widow Sarita, daughters Diana, Jacqueline, Gail, Rebecca, son Joseph, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.