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Simple, soulful send-off for Dr Richard Jones

Published:Thursday | April 11, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Sugar cane on display at the entrance of the University Chapel at the University of the West Indies, St Andrew, during yesterday's funeral for Dr Richard Jones. - Ian Allen/Photographer

Poems, prose and song were the order of the day as family and friends bid farewell to Dr Richard Jones yesterday.

Jones' body was not present and there was no remembrance or homily in keeping with traditions of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). And that's exactly how Jones wanted it; a simple, but soulful send-off.

"Richard was a man who never liked any fanfare or attention to be paid to him," his citation read. All the pieces signified Jones' transcendence to a higher plain. The gathering was soothed by the calming words of Alfred Lord Tennyson's Crossing The Bar ("I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have crossed the bar") and Let Me Go by Christina Rosetti ("When I come to the end of the road ... I want no rites in a gloom-filled room"). These were complemented by singer Andrew Lawrence, who performed Time To Say Goodbye and Memory, even ending with the jazzy Fly Me To The Moon.

Jones is considered an icon of the agricultural sector. In fitting tribute to the man and his work, the University Chapel was adorned with sugar cane and coconuts, two crops with which Jones had more than a working knowledge. As the former board chairman of the Golden Grove Sugar Company, Fred M. Jones Estate and operator of the Duckenfield factory, his legacy with the crop, along with his devotion to St Thomas where he made his home, was unquestioned. He also served as chairman of the Coconut Growers' Association.

However, Jones made his mark in livestock as well where he continually championed the cause of cattle farmers across Jamaica. He had an eye for spotting good cattle as a judge and breeder and has been described as one of the most faithful and reliable members of the historic Jamaican Red Poll Cattle Breeders Society. But despite his achievements, those who knew him best tell say Jones always described himself first and foremost as a farmer.

His love for his homeland was best brought out in a piece penned by the writer in the Jones family, Evan.

The writer said: "I have been privileged, because I grew up in Jamaica. I lived in Eden."