THE MINISTRY of Local Government and Community Development yesterday said Jamaica has lost a dedicated public servant, after news emerged that George Lee, who was mayor of Portmore, had died.
Lee, who was dubbed 'Mr Portmore', died in a Florida hospital after ailing for some time.
"George Lee will be remembered for his unstinting service to local government and as an indisputable champion and lead negotiator for the development of the Portmore Municipality; an advocate for the transformation of Local Government, good governance, and a crusader for the sustainable development of Portmore," said a release from the ministry.
It added: "The citizens of Portmore in general, and the Portmore Citizens Advisory Council in particular, have therefore lost a key advocate for the positive transformation of their communities."
The release further stated that colleagues in the Portmore Municipal Council described Lee as a strong leader, who was very serious about the work of the council and his vision for Portmore.
A former journalist and stalwart of the People's National Party (PNP), Lee was instrumental in Portmore receiving municipal status in 2003.
He also became the first directly elected mayor in the Portmore council that same year. In 2007, he was unseated by the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Keith Hinds.
But Lee would not be out for long. He was triumphant in his bid for the same post last year.
The PNP also expressed sadness at Lee's death.
A statement from the party said "the news of his passing placed a damper on the spirits of Comrades gathered at the Jamaica Grande for the first meeting of the NEC (National Executive Council) for the 2013-2014 political year".
Meanwhile, the JLP's Audley Shaw said Lee's contribution to nation building should be viewed with respect.