US Jamaicans remember Oliver Clarke as a nation-builder


US Jamaicans remember Oliver Clarke as a nation-builder

Observer writer

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States — Jamaicans across the United States (US) have reacted with sadness to the death of iconic business leader Oliver F Clarke, as they pay tribute to one of the country's best known private sector leaders for his sterling contributions to nation-building.

“The country has lost a giant,” said Sadie Campbell, who heads the Jamaica Progressive League, which is affiliated with the Opposition People's National Party. “It is imperative that every effort is made to build on the work he did over the many years to help develop the country.”

Campbell also described Clarke's contribution in finance and his exemplary work as a fearless proponent of press freedom as things that should be preserved and built on.

In his tribute, president of the Ex-Correctional Officers Association of Jamaica, Ronnie Hammick, described Clarke as one of those leaders who displayed “an unqualified commitment to Jamaica and the development of its people”.

“His passing has left a void that may be hard to fill, but we must work to find a way to build on his achievements,” added Hammick.

Dr Joyce El-Ali, president of the National Association of Jamaica and Supportive Organisations, which is the umbrella organisation for several organisations serving Jamaica in the Diaspora, noted that Jamaica has lost a champion with the passing of Clarke.

She said his contribution to Jamaica's development through the private sector was immeasurable and was something that should be expanded on.

Dr Rupert Francis, a former member of the Jamaica Defence Force and current head of the Jamaica Diaspora Task Force on crime and prevention, described Clarke as a stalwart “who stood up for fairness, integrity, and honesty”.

He said he had limited contact with Clarke during his career in the army, but found him to be passionate about the things in which he believed.

“He would never waver nor back down — he stood his ground,” said Francis, who also lauded Clarke for using his position at the Gleaner to promote and mentor young men.

“Our country would do well with more men like Oliver Clarke,” declared Francis.

Clarke, the long time head of the Gleaner Company and later as part of the leadership RJRGleaner Communications Group, died last Saturday at age 75. He was also well known in financial circles as head of the Jamaica National Building Society, now Jamaica National Bank, as well as for his role in the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, which he helped to found and later served as president.

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