Thu | Oct 21, 2021

Holness: Anthony Johnson lived a selfless life

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2021 | 12:24 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Former legislator and diplomat Anthony Johnson died yesterday at the age of 82.

News of the passing of the former member of parliament (MP) and senator emerged as the House of Representatives sat yesterday.

Former Government Minister Derrick Smith said Johnson’s death was a blow to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

“Anthony and I go back many decades. I first met Anthony when I was very involved in a movement, which is a young people leadership training organisation. At that time, he was with the recently established PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.). On many occasions, Tony would be our guest speaker at our functions,” Smith said yesterday.

Johnson served as executive director of the PSOJ from 1976 to 1980.

“Later on in life, we met again, this time as full-fledged members of the Jamaica Labour Party,” Smith said, mentioning that he and Johnson served together in the Senate.

Johnson joined the Senate in 1980, simultaneously serving as minister of state in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

He was a one-term MP for St Catherine North Eastern between 1984 and 1989.

Johnson again rejoined the Senate in 1993, serving until 2007.

Less than a year after the JLP came back into office in 2007, by then a seasoned Johnson was sent to Washington as Jamaica’s chief diplomat.

He served in that post until 2010 before he was reassigned to the United Kingdom, where he served up until the next change of administration.

Johnson and Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson were in a diplomatic war as the former refused to submit his resignation to the permanent secretary after the change of political administration in early January 2012.

Johnson was advised that his engagement would come to an end on February 29, approximately two and a half months before the expiration of his contract.

Nicholson told the Senate on May 6, 2012, that of the five heads of mission from whom resignations were requested, only Johnson, the high commissioner to London, failed to comply.

“I found Anthony to be an individual with a brilliant mind. I have always said he is one of the brighter persons that I have met. He is an outstanding historian. He would relate to any issue with a historical perspective. Jamaica has lost an outstanding son,” Smith reflected yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness also paid tribute to Johnson.

“He led a life that can only be described as selfless, having made invaluable contributions to both the private and public sectors and as an educator lecturing at the University of the West Indies for many years,” Holness stated.

Johnson is survived by four children and his widow, Pamela, whom he married in 1969.