Former Gleaner deputy managing director dies
He was a virtual superstar among staff at every level in the company. Many still speak about him as if he hadn’t retired years ago.
– Christopher Barnes
STAFF AND friends at The Gleaner reacted with shock and grief upon learning of the passing of retired Deputy Managing Director and board member Christopher Roberts, who died yesterday morning.
Christopher Barnes, managing director at The Gleaner Company (Media) Ltd, said Roberts played a significant role in the development of the organisation, even after his retirement in 2005.
“Mr Roberts was the director any managing director would want to have on his board. I was always impressed by his neverfailing attention to detail and his willingness to offer his assistance, advice and a listening ear whenever needed,” Barnes said.
“Most of all, I was moved by his courteousness. Indeed, I truly believe his favourite phrase was ‘thank you, you are very kind’. He was a virtual superstar among staff at every level in the company. Many still speak about him as if he hadn’t retired years ago.”
Employed to The Gleaner Company Limited in February 1975, Roberts assumed the office of financial manager and in June 2003 was elevated to the position of deputy managing director – a position he held until his retirement in March 2005.
After his retirement, Roberts continued to serve on the board of directors until, due to his failing health, he resigned in December 2014. He, however, maintained his relationship with The Gleaner, attending all company events to which he was invited. As recent as three weeks ago, he attended the Long-Service Awards and Pensioners’ Luncheon, where he, in his usual manner, expressed sincere gratitude and appreciation to the company.
Barnes indicated that Roberts’ strength of character, in addition to his perseverance, would never be forgotten.
“In his final years, he fought his ailments with the strength of character for which he was well known, and one could see his discomfort when he finally took the decision to stop serving The Gleaner when it became too difficult for him,” Barnes said.
“We have lost a great family member and friend, however, we will all move on with the great memories he’s left behind with us.”
Roberts was also instrumental in the development of Jamaica’s sugar industry, where he served earlier in his career. He spoke out often and loudly about the plethora of challenges manufacturers were facing, calling for changes that would make sugar production more viable.
There were, among other concerns, the matter of plunging prices on the global market, escalating production costs, and the disquieting Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, under which countries like Jamaica were paid substantially less per ton for sugar by Britain than that earned by other sugar-producing countries.
Roberts bemoaned the disadvantageous position in which Jamaica found itself with respect to the world market, and was equally disturbed about what he felt were the unreasonably low prices paid by local sugar processors. When he was not lobbying for a better deal for sugar producers, Roberts had his hands filled with the inevitable sugar workers’ strikes for higher wages, and negotiations with trade unions, all of which he handled with his usual aplomb.
He was married to Jill Puttnam in 1964 and was the father of one son and one daughter.
Born on February 15, 1940, to Vernon and Daisy Roberts, Christopher passed away peacefully on October 6, 2016.
I was moved by his courteousness. Indeed, I truly believe his favourite phrase was ‘thank you, you are very kind’.