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The Classics

A Hero laid to rest

Published:Friday | September 10, 2021 | 6:41 AMA Digital Integration & Marketing production
An army caption retrieving the Jamaican Flag from the coffin of Mr. Norman Manley as it sinks slowly into the grave, after members of the clergy (left) had consecrated the ground in a brief ceremony at the National shrine on September 7, 1969.
United in mourning, the Manley family and leaders of the Jamaican family stand together at the grave of Norman Washington Manley in the Avenue of National Heroes in King George Sixth Memorial Park in Kingston . At left, Mr. Michael Manley consoles his grief-stricken mother, Mrs. Edna Manley, and her other son, Dr. Douglas Manley also supports her in her sorrow. Next, Dr. Muriel Manley holds the hand of her nephew, Joseph, in shared sadness, and beside them, Ronald Manley and Norman Manley II stand solemnly. The nation’s leaders, Sir Clifford Campbell, Governor General, Lady Campbell and Prime Minister, the Hon. Hugh Shearer, complete the sorrowing group.

Fifty-two years ago, a giant was laid to rest. Norman Washington Manley excelled at almost everything he tried his hand. The impact of that excellence is felt to this day, so while the final day for the nation to say goodbye was solemn, it needn’t have been. Norman Washington Manley, despite the story below depicting his funeral, will live forever.

Published Monday, September 8, 1969

By the Avenue of Heroes Manley rest

Final tributes from people of all rank of life

NORMAN Washington Manley, Q.C., former Premier, former Leader of the Opposition, statesman and patriot, was buried yesterday in the National Shrine by the Avenue of National Heroes.

The interment in this place of honour for the nation’s leader followed a State Funeral in the Kingston Parish Church and a procession from the church to the George VI Memorial Park which had all the ceremonial rites and military colour and precision of such occasions.

The departed leader was mourned by thousands of persons, headed by His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Clifford Campbell, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., Her Excellency Lady Campbell, the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer, P.C., and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Michael Manley, MP.

From all walks of life, from all sections of the society, they came to pay final tribute to Mr. Manley. The Judges of the land, the leaders of the Bar, ministers of all denominations making the service ecumenical, the top officers of the administrative offices of the State, the representatives of every professional group in the island, the Ministers of the Cabinet, the Members of Parliament headed by the President of the Senate, the Hon. G. S. Banglin, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Eugene Parkinson, Q.C., the leader of the trade unions, members of political party groups and trade unions, housewife, tradesman, farmer -in fact every sector of the Island’s society was represented at the funeral.

And among the principal mourners were the representatives of foreign states and Commonwealth nations, all joining together in the solemn procession from the church to the place chosen for interment.

Mr. Manley died on Tuesday last week and the island went into official mourning which lasted until yesterday, the day of the funeral, which had been declared by the Government a Day of National Mourning for Mr. Manley.


As messages of condolence poured in to the Manley family and to the Government from all over the world and from all parts of the island, final ceremonies were field for him. His body lay in state at the People’s National Party headquarters on Thursday. His body lay in state in the Manchester Parish Church, Mandeville and in the Porus Methodist Church on Friday. And his body lay in state at the Kingston Parish Church on Saturday and again from yesterday morning up to 12 noon. In that period, thousands of persons passed the bier to pay homage.

And yesterday afternoon, with simple, dignified and military precisioned rites, the nation, through their leaders and by themselves, attended the State Service in his honour and interment by Avenue of National Heroes.

A packed congregation paid tributes to the lawyer, Statesman at the State Service held for him at the Kingston Parish Church, yesterday afternoon.

Led by the Governor-General, Sir Clifford Campbell, and the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer, thousands of Jamaicans filled the church and shared in the simple, yet inspiring funeral service.


Leaders of State and Church, of Business and Commerce, of Agriculture and Industry, of Diplomacy and the Law, all gathered in the historic church. They were joined by distinguished visitors from overseas, who came to honour the departed Jamaican national leader.

Among these were Lord Caradon, of Britain, Premier Robert Bradshaw, of St. Kitts, Premier Vere Bird, of Antigua, Senator Donald Pierre, of Trinidad and Senator Derek Knight, of Grenada.

A moving tribute was paid to Mr. Manley by the Rev. Hugh Sherlock, head of the Methodist Church in the West Indies, who came from his headquarters in Antigua to take part in the service.

Taking his text from the famous passage in Leviticus, in the Bible: “Now let us praise famous man…”, the Rev. Hugh Sherlock, in giving the Remembrance, said: “These words could have been written about Norman Washington Manley”.

After giving a brief biography of Mr. Manley, touching the many facets of his career, the preacher declared Norman Manley was prominent in all fields of endeavour.

His power in athletics, his excellence in academic studies, his proud record of military service, his outstanding performance as a lawyer and advocate, his political leadership – all were recalled by Mr. Sherlock.


Going back to Mr. Manley’s entry into Jamaica’s public life in 1938 he recalled his dramatic declaration, “I give up my law practice to take up the case of my country”.

And he brought back to mind the tribute paid to Mr. Manley by Sir Stafford Cripps on the occasion of the launching of the People’s National party in the Ward Theatre in Kingston 30 years ago.

Tributes which have been paid to Mr. Manley by leading statesman in Britain and in the Unites States and by leaders in the West Indies and here at home in Jamaica were also to called by Mr. Sherlock.

Norman Washington Manley was a great man and a good man the preacher declared. He quoted the lines from Julius Caesar, paying tribute to a man in whom the elements of life were so mixed that all Nature stood up in admiration of him. That description could also apply to Norman Manley, he said.


Mr. Manley’s role as a pioneer was also praised by Mr. Sherlock a pioneer in independence for Jamaica a pioneer for the ill-fated Federation of the West Indies, a pioneer for regional unity.

But the role of the pioneer was always difficult, the preacher pointed out. Very often, those who pioneered failed to reap the reward for their work. We shall not travel but we made the road, he quoted, as he found a poetic reference to glorify the pioneers’ role.

Mr. Sherlock, a long-time associate of Mr. Manley, gave reminiscences expressive of the great man’s kindness and humanness, his patriotism and his deep spirituality. Speaking of him as a good man and a great man, devoted patriot and architect of the nation, Mr. Sherlock also spoke of him as a good husband and a good father.

For all these things, for all the varied facets of his life for the man’s interest which he shared with others, we shall remember him the preached said.


With a final reference to Mr. Manley’s family, Mr. Sherlock named his two sons Douglas and Michael and made special mention of the fact that his mantle of political leadership had fallen on his son Michael.

For Mrs. Manley, he offered the words of comfort from the Bible, the words of Jesus Christ “I am the Resurrection and the life of whomsoever believeth in me shall never die.” “Norman Washington Manley, pioneer and patriot, we salute you. We shall remember you”, said Mr. Sherlock as he ended a tribute filled with poetic and Biblical quotations.

Mr. Sherlock’s tribute struck the note of quiet simplicity that marked the service. Pitched on a low key of muted sorrow for the passing of a great man, it never rose to emotional heights, but retained a quiet dignity throughout.

Patriotic hymn

Conducted by the Rev E.G. Allsopp rector of the church, the service lasted for an hour. It began with the singing of that patriotic hymn, “I vow to thee, my country,” and ended with the singing of the National Anthem another hymn of patriotic avowal.

There was the simple beauty of the Twenty third Psalm and the quiet, touching rendition of the anthem ‘Jerusalem’ by the Young Fellowship Singers, a choir of young voices in religious song done in the minor key that marked the mood of the entire service.

St. John’s awful but inspiring vision of the resurrection as contained in the Book of Revelation was the subject of the Lesson, read by the Rev Ashley Smith, president of Jamaica Christian Council. And the final prayers for the departed for those who mourn and for Christian fortitude were said by the Rev R O C King another long-time associate of Mr. Manley. The blessing was also pronounced by the Rev Mr. King.

That poignant hymn, “There were ninety and nine that safely lay”, a favourite of Mr. Manley was sung with deep feeling and compassion by the huge congregation and then came the National Anthem to add the final note of dedication.


Although the service did not begin until 3 p.m., the arranged hour for its commencement, the mood of mourning started as early as 1:45 p.m. when the bier entered the church through the southern door.

Borne by men of the Jamaica Defence Force their scarlet tunics in colourful contrast with the sombre black, green and gold of the Jamaican flag which draped the casket, the body returned to the church in which it had laid in state for two days.

Slowly and solemnly, they bore their noble burden, placing on the black base in front of the main altar, while those members of the congregation ready in their seats stood in respectful silence.

Lovingly, almost tenderly, they laid the casket down, and then withdrew as reverently as they came, leaving Norman Manley in his last quiet glory.

Early arrivals included members of the People’s National Party, the political organisation which Mr. Manley founded 30 years ago and which he led continuously until his retirement early this year. 

Among these were Dr. Ansel Hayden, MP Mr. Stanley Pagon, MP, and Mr. Wills O. Isaacs, MP, Another MP, Mr. Robert McFarlane, of the Government, was among the first persons to enter the church.

JAS president

Mr. Willie Henry, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society another associate of Mr. Manley over many years, was early in his place. So was Mr. Thossy Kelly, faithful labour union follower of Mr. Manley, who heads the National Workers Union.

By 2 o’clock, the church and churchyard began to stir with activity. The mourners who had been asked to be in their seats by 2:40 p.m. began to arrive in a steady stream, and the official ushers were kept busy.

Men of the Jamaica National Reserve took up positions to the right and left of the northern door leading to the main entrance on South Parade. They were later joined by men of the Jamaican Coast Guard.

Arrivals at this period include Mr. Claries Stanhope, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir John and Lady Carberry, Sir Philip and Lady Sherlock, Mrs. Rose Leon and Mr. Arthur Leon, Mr. Claude Stuart, veteran PNP politician, and Mr. Noel Silvera M.P.

Another group included Sir Herbert Macdonald, Dr. Vernon Lopez and Mr. Abe Issa. They were followed by Mr. Clinton Mullings, Mayor of Mandeville, wearing his chain of office, and Mr. Florizel Glasspole, with his wife and sister, Thalia, an early party worker.

Brigadier David Smith, Chief of Staff, Jamaica Defence Force, came in, resplendent in his dress uniform, dazzling with medals. A group of St. John’s Ambulance Nurses, in their simple uniforms, presented a quiet contrast.

Growing stream

As the stream of arrivals grew, filling the church across the Parade, a press of people filled the space behind the barricades on the sidewalk on the northern side and flowed behind the park rails into the park itself.

First of the overseas visitors to arrive was Mr. Bird of Antigua. He was followed by Senato Knight. Other notables who came in at this time included Mr. Carlton Alexander, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Mr. David Wilken, present Head of Mission at the American Embassy and Lady Allan relict of another great Jamaican statesman.

Slowly the minutes passed and then at 2:45 p.m., the great bell in the church tower started its mournful clanging.

Mr. Robert Bradshaw, a striking figure in top hat and morning dress, now arrived. He was followed by Archbishop John J. McEleney and Bishop Samuel Carter, of the Roman Catholic Church, wearing their Episcopal robes of purple. A stir in the crowd marked the arrival of Lady Bustamante, a dignified figure in black. She was soon followed by Senator Pierre, another of the overseas visitors.

Lord Caradon came next, accompanied by the British High Commissioner, Mr. J. Dalton Murray. He was greeted by old friends as the church entrance.

P.M. and Cabinet

Then as the hands of the great clock in the tower pointed to 2:50 p.m., the members of the Jamaican Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister arrived in a body.

They made an impassive entrance and took their seats in the special enclosure in the church reserved for them - a position on the centre aisle south of the casket and facing it. Sir Clifford and Lady Campbell then came, signalling the last of the arrivals before the principal mourners, the members of the Manley family.

Another stir among the crowd outside and a brief burst of cheering marked the arrival of the Manleys. Mrs. Manley was a melancholy figure in black, obviously grief stricken and supported on both sides by her two sons, Douglas and Michael.

Following behind were other members of the family, including Dr. Muriel Manley, sister, Rachel Norman Jr. and Joseph grandchildren of Mr. Norman Manley.

They took up their special places of distinction on the southern side of the church facing the casket; it was now time for the service to begin.

Hushed silence

With the church filled to capacity, the congregation waited in hushed silence for the start of the service, a silence broken only by the measured clanging of the bell and by the whirr of electric fans.

For this was no balmy Sunday afternoon but a hot Jamaica day, full of the sunshine and warmth that Norman Washington Manley loved. Then, as the congregation rose on the pealing notes of the organ and, the music swelled, the procession of priests, altar attendants and choristers moved from the rear of the church to the altar.

From the distance came that first intonations of the Sentences and then the procession came into view. In it, were all the priests who took part in the service, as well as Archbishop McEleney, Bishop Carter, Bishop Thomas Clark, of Kingston, Rabbi Hooker, and the Rt Rev Cyril Swaby, Lord Bishop of Jamaica.

When they took their places in the sanctuary the service began. One hour later it was over. The procession of priests and choristers re-found and made their solemn way out of the church while the organ played the plaintive notes of Handel’s,  “Dead March in Saul”, that music of mournful majesty that speaks of Death and Man’s triumph over it.


Outside in the square, the procession notes of military commands rang out as the guard of honour of the First Battalion, the Jamaica Regiment was called to attention, in readiness for their escort duty on the funeral procession through the streets.

From the Southern door of the church, the military pall-bearers returned for their melancholy duty of bearing the body of Norman Washington Manley from the church for its last final journey.

Lifting it once again from its stable resting place in the church they bore on their sturdy shoulders out through the northern door towards the main gate on South Parade. With slow and stately tread, they took the casket out from the gloom of the church into the bright sunshine of the afternoon.

Eight men did the sad duty. They were supported by one of their colleagues marching in front of the bier, and three behind it. Bringing up the rear was an officer of the regiment, bearing Mr. Manley’s military medals on a black velvet cushion

Members of the Manley family followed, Mrs. Manley being escorted by her two sons and she herself carrying a single simple wreath of red roses and ferns on a black cushion.

Other official mourners followed, with the Prime Minister leading his Cabinet members and as the packed church emptied, attention turned to the funeral procession that was to start in a few minutes time.

His body placed on a gun carriage, Norman Manley was ready to go on his last journey. 

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