Wed | Sep 28, 2016

Goodbye to the 'unquestioned general'

Published:Sunday | July 28, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Dr Rae Davis
Dr Omar Davies (left) and Dr Carlton Davis with mom Amy Davis (centre) at a function to honour Dr Rae Davis in 2007.-File

Omar Davies leads tributes to his mother as she is laid to rest

There were glowing words aplenty for Amy 'Mymie' Davis at a thanksgiving service for her life at the St Gabriel's Anglican Church in May Pen, Clarendon, last Tuesday.

One of her sons, Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies, delivered the remembrance.

Davis, who died age 95, hailed from Milk River, and Davies provided an explanation for the name she was known as by many.

"Mymie represents a corruption of 'Mamma Amy' which Carlton, her firstborn, was instructed to use," Davies explained.

"You see 'Mamma' was already reserved for our maternal grandmother, with whom Carlton lived for a time, as a youngster.

"Over time, we, her children, plus all our friends have called her Mymie."

Describing his late mother as multifaceted, Davies divided her life into four characteristics: the unquestioned general of the Davis household; Mymie with the passion for education; as community leader; and finally, as the free thinker who consistently thought, and acted, "outside of the box".

He cited numerous examples of her leadership, like joining the May Pen Credit Union and borrowing at different intervals "to expand the family home as her brood grew in size".

As 'the general', Davies chronicled how his mother greatly influenced the careers of his brothers Carlton and Rae.

Through innovative methods, she funded Carlton's admission to the Jamaica School of Agriculture, and convinced Rae to further his education at Clarendon College's sixth form, though it would have been cheaper for the family if he started working.

"I have briefly recounted these episodes simply to illustrate how the actions of this ordinary woman changed the lives of two men who would go on to hold, simultaneously, the positions of Cabinet Secretary (Carlton) and President of UTech (University of Technology), respectively," Davies said.

"There are very few who would be aware of the pivotal role Mymie played in both cases."

Mymie was never a trained teacher but had a "deep appreciation of the value of increased knowledge, and especially the importance of reading".

After the 1951 hurricane, the Four Paths Elementary School was used to house persons whose homes had been badly damaged.

So for an extended period, as there was no formal school, Mymie established one in her backyard for her four oldest children and those of the neighbouring community.

Mymie was a founding member of the Four Paths Citizens' Association and worked tirelessly to develop the community centre.

When the Michael Manley-led Government highlighted early childhood education, she led the charge for a basic school.

Ultimately, her efforts led to support for schools in neighbouring communities. Davies said Mymie never complained about her challenges.

"There are very few persons, deprived of a formal education, who was a mother of six before her 32nd birthday, forced to operate always on a limited income, who would not simply give in and accept life as it is," he beamed.

"But there is no one who met Mymie who would describe her as 'run-of-the-mill'."