Saturday, 9 August 2014

FINAL FAREWELL: Sir Howard Cooke gets a reflective, respectful send-off

ONE OF OUR OWN: The JDF bearer party transporting Sir Cooke's coffin at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
A few weeks after his passing, Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke was honoured by family, former colleagues and government officials including Lady Ivy Cooke, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, PM Portia Simpson-Miller and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness during a state funeral at George Headley Drive's Holy Trinity Cathedral on Friday, August 8. 

The engrossing three-hour service, which was streamed and broadcast live, featured musical tributes from the National Chorale of Jamaica, the Jamaican Folk Singers and the Hope United Church Choir, and eulogies by grandchildren Dr. Howard Cooke, Dr. Tasha Cooke Davis and Alberto Cooke, and former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who hailed Sir Cooke as an extraordinary man who has carved a unique place in the pantheon of Jamaican history. 

"He was born to teach. He was always searching for innovative new ways to make children learn," Patterson recalled. He commanded and earned total respect." Simpson-Miller, meantime, also remembered Sir Cooke as the consummate educator and as a source of inspiration and one of the pioneers of the new Jamaica who gave new meaning to the term 'colossus.' "His was a life of teaching, building and giving," the prime minister said. "It was a life of service and selflessness." 

Sir Howard Cooke, who died on Friday, July 11 at the age of 98, became Jamaica's fourth Governor General in August 1991, demitting office in February of 2006. Hours after Friday's state service, he was laid to rest at National Heroes' Park, where a massive crowd gathered as the afternoon summer sun blazed brightly above. From the solemn service inside the cathedral to the JDF-led procession that culminated at Heroes' Park, nothing could distract from the event's respectful and reflective vibe. 

Not surprisingly, the example of Sir Howard Cooke, an esteemed public servant and family man (fondly known as Teacher) who dedicated his entire life to nation-building, continues to inspire. "Never hesitate to give; you will receive tenfold, he used to tell us," the grandchildren recalled in their joint and anecdotal remembrance. "As we blossomed in our careers, he taught us to never lose the human touch. We continue to play our part because our foundation is so strong." 

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