Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Percival Noel James Patterson was yesterday hailed as a brilliant political strategist; statesmen extraordinaire and an extraordinary parliamentarian, blessed with an enduring international vision that rejects insular objectives in any shape or form.
"He was a great parliamentarian, effective in debate; master of administrative and legislative detail with a strong international vision, a deliberative and thoughtful personality, motivated by a sense of service; anxious for a bright future for Jamaicans," declared Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Her presentation was made before a full house of present and former legislators and public officials who turned up at Gordon House for the special joint-sitting in which the former prime minister was honoured.
Seated beside Patterson in the customary place of honour was another former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, who was recently honoured, as well as Patterson's son, Richard.
Simpson Miller painted the former Prime Minister as a skilful political organiser and an astute and pragmatic, all-purpose politician, with an intellectual vitality, who may have held more ministerial portfolios than any post independent politician.
"He moved to change the international landscape to be more balanced, transparent and inclusive," she declared.
Most illustrious son of Jamaica
Patterson was described by Leader of Government Business in the House Phillip Paulwell, as a most illustrious son of Jamaica. His 'glowing tapestry of awards' was outlined by A.J. Nicholson, another stalwart who served with Patterson in Government during the 1990s.
Describing Patterson as a man of great humility and resilience, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness said he is one of the most dedicated public servants to Jamaica and the epitome of the Caribbean man.
The Opposition Leader also hailed Patterson's tendency to contemplate and ponder on matters before making public pronouncements and expressed admiration for his deliberate speaking style.
"He cannot be criticised for saying what you don't mean, a trait that should be emulated by other politicians," said the Opposition Leader.
Dr Peter Phillips, the man who wrestled with Simpson Miller and two others in 2006 to succeed Patterson as leader of the People's National Party and Prime Minister of Jamaica, described Patterson as one who had helped to lay the foundation for Jamaica's Independence and shaped the path of Jamaica's progress in the global community.
"Both his predecessors as well as his successors alternated leadership of the state with their rivals, Patterson orchestrated the levers of power with the confidence of a man unperturbed by the possibility of challenge, yet with a refreshing decency and a remarkable generosity of spirit," Phillips said.
Other interventions came from opposition MP Derrick Smith who regaled the Parliament with the wit, knowledge and humility of his schoolmate at Calabar High and his neighbour in upper St Andrew.
Robert Pickersgill, Dr Omar Davies, Audley Shaw, Desmond McKenzie and Luther Buchanan, the latter who succeeded Patterson as the member of Parliament of Eastern Westmoreland, also made contributions.