Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Hundreds packed the small Haughton Grove Christian Church in Ramble, St James two Saturdays ago to bid farewell to a man dubbed a 'priceless asset' by the country's tourism stakeholders.
Weeks after hospitality worker Dean Moriah was stabbed and left to burn to death, he was laid to rest in a glowing tribute from the Ministry of Tourism and its entities, former colleagues from SuperClubs, Swept Away resorts, Margaritaville Caribbean, friends and relatives.
"It (his death) is a sad loss to our fraternity. We encourage you to be lifted up with fond memories of a young man who made his mark in his short time here with us and who will be sorely missed," said Marline Stephenson-Dalley, who paid tribute on behalf of the tourism agencies that fall under the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
In her stirring tribute, Stephenson-Dalley depicted a true tourism ambassador, whose story was one of how hard work and a good attitude made a difference.
Indeed, Moriah was passionate about nation building and helped in providing hope for less-fortunate youth in his community. He assisted schools in Westmoreland by helping to erect walls, build classrooms and providing furniture and computer equipment. He played an integral role in the 'Read to Achieve' and 'Motivate to Elevate' programmes geared at promoting reading and to provide role models for the youth.
"He was also a part of the Junior Tennis Association, an organisation that gets less fortunate children involved in the game of tennis," read Stephenson-Dalley.
His farewell was one of pain and celebration, and this was evident when cabaret performer Georgia Henry broke down and cried on his casket while singing 'You Light Up My Life'.
When the former Herbert Morrison High School student's friend, Ricardo Henry, spoke, his speech was filled with admiration, "Dean was an eternal dreamer, a dancer, a talker whose madness, humility and kindness made him special".
"We may not be able to match Dean's abilities or strength, but we can all strive to match his humanity, volunteerism and compassion for others," said Moriah's cousin, Arnold Kelly, while reading the eulogy.
Kelly described Moriah as a giant disguised in a skinny frame. "He was a hero to many. He brought fame to our country. We admire his achievements and the respect he earned both locally and internationally."
In her tribute, Jamaica Labour Party representative in eastern Hanover, Paula Kerr-Jarrett admitted she was forced to reschedule her flight to England, because Moriah touched her life in such a unique way.
"He was given such a short time, but he touched so many lives," she shared.