For­mer Gleaner deputy manag­ing direc­tor dies

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISTO­PHER ROBERTS

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.”

LONG-SERV­ING EM­PLOYEE

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’.

Christo­pher Roberts

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