Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Tears flow as Roger Clarke's body returns

Published:Thursday | September 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

Tears flowed freely yesterday, as parliamentary colleagues, friends and relatives of late Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke gathered on the tarmac of the Norman Manley International Airport to receive the coffin containing his body.

A grief-stricken Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was pressed into the role of comforter, as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, as well as Easton (Robert) Stewart, who had been Clarke's personal driver for more than 10 years, broke down and wept openly.

A short distance away, a subdued Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna seemed to have been losing the battle to keep her emotions in check as tears rolled silently down her cheeks.

Through it all, Clarke's widow Sonia, though in a sombre mood, put on a brave face, with Simpson Miller and former Prime Minister P.J Patterson lending support.

The atmosphere took on a more solemn tone as the coffin, carried by eight members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, neared and the gathering broke into the hymn, I Must have the Saviour with Me.

"I must have the Saviour with me/For I dare not walk alone;

"I must feel his presence near me/And his arms around me thrown."

Education Minister Reverend Ronald Thwaites led a brief impromptu service of thanksgiving for his longtime friend and parliamentary colleague, before it was placed into a hearse for transportation to the morgue.

The official funeral for Clarke, who died on August 28 in Florida, where he underwent surgery to relieve back pains caused by a pinched nerve, will take place at the St George's Anglican Church in Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland, on Saturday.

From 9 o'clock this morning, until 3 a.m. in the afternoon, his body may be viewed at the PNP headquarters, 89 Old Hope Road, St Andrew.

On Friday the body will be at the Sharon Baptist Church in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth, from 9-12, before going to his alma mater Mannings High School in Westmoreland from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com