THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute pays tribute to veteran trade unionist and Garveyite Frank Gordon, OD, who died last week at the age of 90.
In Frank Gordon, Jamaica has lost a rare treasure - one who from childhood days showed an everlasting interest in the public affairs of the land of his birth, observed from ringside the making of our modern history, then shared it for decades not only with his contemporaries, but also with the generations that followed.
Influenced by St William Grant in the Park to heed the philosophy and teachings of Marcus Garvey and later mentored by the brothers Ken and Frank Hill, Frank Gordon was an early member of the People's National Party (PNP) and a member of the leadership cadre of the PNP-affiliated Trade Union Congress (TUC).
He was shaken by the ideological rift between the party and the vanguard of the union, culminating in the 1952 expulsion from the PNP of the 'Four Hs' - the Hill brothers, Richard Hart and Arthur Henry - and the disaffiliation of the TUC.
Gordon remained faithful to the more radical trade unionists, but also displayed a mature tolerance that allowed him to support any cause aimed at progress, welfare and protection of the Jamaican people, especially the working class, from which he sprang. He was later to serve as president of the TUC up to the time of his death.
Born at Love Lane in downtown Kingston in proximity to such landmarks of our heritage as Victoria Park (now St William Grant Park), Marcus Garvey's Liberty Hall, the Ward Theatre, the Houses of the legislature and the Supreme Court, Mr Gordon made full use of his environment to uplift himself and earn the admiration and respect of his peers, as well as men and women of letters in our society.
He was an intuitive scholar whose education was mostly informal; in rustic style under the banyan trees in the park and also in more tranquil and refined settings of public lecture halls where he took notes in meetings of such forward-looking bodies as the Federation of Citizens' Associations, the St Andrew Literary & Debating Society and the National Reform Association. From research at the Institute of Jamaica and other sources, he developed scrapbooks on various subjects, including the long-term 'Unsung Heroes of Jamaica'.
In the 1970s, he was a prominent member of the National Consumers' League, which he represented on the board of the then National Prices Commission.
His support of progressive causes, especially his deep commitment to the Garvey movement and devotion to Liberty Hall, remained to the end.
Head, Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute