BRIAN GE­ORGE LAID TO REST

a Caribbean ‘king’ who never lost his soul

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

WHEN BRIAN Regi­nald Austin Ge­orge’s trail­blaz­ing life came to an end on Oc­to­ber 23, it took away the mag­i­cal love of a hus­band, broke the bond of mar­riage be­tween him and his beau­ti­ful and de­voted wife Ke­neea Lin­ton-Ge­orge, and the strong bond of love with his sons, Matthew and Christopher.

The gre­gar­i­ous Trinida­dian who made Ja­maica his home some 30 years ago brought out prime min­is­ters past and present, past and present Cab­i­net min­is­ters, busi­ness­men and women, and other dig­ni­taries from Ja­maica and around the Caribbean re­gion to the St An­drew Parish Church yes­ter­day.

They came to say good­bye to a man his son Christopher de­scribed as hav­ing “an un­par­al­lelled need to help oth­ers” dur­ing his tribute to his dad, men­tor and friend.

The griev­ing son, who spoke first, de­scribed his brother, Matthew, as his an­chor as they de­ter­mined the or­der in which they would speak. It was his very first sen­tence that summed up the man who Ja­maicans came to love and re­spect.

“I would not know my father if he did not share so much of him­self with ev­ery­one he in­ter­acted with be­cause my father be­longed to all...” said Christopher Ge­orge.

He de­scribed his father in the words of Rud­yard Ki­pling’s “If you can walk with the crowd and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings nor lose the com­mon touch...”

The younger Ge­orge read a tribute from for­mer Prime Min­is­ter P J Pat­ter­son, who spoke of the late Supreme Ven­tures boss as one who “left such an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion on our na­tional land­scape” since he came to Ja­maica 30 years ago.

“He had a depth of char­ac­ter that is rare in our men that left a last­ing im­pres­sion on ev­ery­one,” said Christopher, as he stated that there was never a prob­lem too com­plex for his father to solve. He gave it all his en­ergy.

He said that in his father’s 27 years of mar­riage to his mother, he saw the im­por­tance of the fam­ily unit, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and love, which shaped his and his brother’s char­ac­ter.

Mathew shared of a father who had the gift of gab, a fam­ily man, and a friend who loved his ex­tended fam­ily.

GRIEV­ING WIDOW

But even as the sons paid tribute to a man they called their king, all eyes were on his griev­ing widow, Ke­neea. Bereft of makeup, ev­ery tis­sue of her beau­ti­ful face was twisted and con­torted with grief. She braved the “thank yous”, as guests came and of­fered their con­do­lences.

She sat sand­wiched be­tween her step­sons, who, at vary­ing points dur­ing the funeral ser­vice, held her as she broke down when some­thing was said about the love of her life who was gone for­ever. Ke­neea hung her head at times, stared blankly ahead at other mo­ments, but was in­con­solable dur­ing the con­gre­ga­tion’s ren­di­tion of the first hymn. Her only genuine smile came just be­fore Father Robert Thomp­son de­liv­ered the homily when he said his life was never the same since he met Brian Ge­orge a decade ago.

Ear­lier, Ke­neea’s iden­ti­cal twin sis­ter was moved from be­side her as she was mis­taken as the widow.

Christopher called her the “love of my dad’s life, Ke­neea,” de­scrib­ing their love as one of “tim­ing and destiny”. He shared how af­ter suf­fer­ing a slipped disc, Ke­neea vis­ited him “the very day in the hospi­tal”, and what he thought was one of the low­est times of his life turned out to be a “bless­ing”.

De­spite know­ing each other years be­fore, it was dur­ing that time that Brian and Ke­neea’s love grew, blos­somed, and was ful­filled in a sto­ry­book mar­riage in Venice, Italy, where he mar­ried his princess and she mar­ried her prince, and both be­came king and queen.

RO­MAN­TIC SIDE

Both brothers reaf­firmed their father’s loved for his wife, with Christopher say­ing it was dur­ing his mar­riage to Ke­neea that they saw the ro­man­tic in him. Matthew thanked her for mak­ing their father smile again and for be­ing there through thick and thin. He said her love and devotion to him were all they could ask for.

Queen’s Coun­sel Wal­ter Scott said fam­ily and friends were the only two classes of per­sons Brian Ge­orge knew.

“As a busi­ness mogul and as pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of one of the largest pub­licly traded com­pa­nies in Ja­maica, Brian never lost his soul,” said Scott of his friend for many years.

The son of a pub­lic ser­vant and diplo­mat, Brian Ge­orge at­tended high school and univer­sity in the United States, which pro­vided an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for him and taught him “many life lessons”.

“Brian pos­sessed a most bril­liant mind; a mind grounded in arith­metic, sci­ence and logic but ex­panded by literature, po­etry, prose and a breath­tak­ing men­tal agility. The quick­ness and speed of his mind was Bolt-like. Brian was one of those very rare hu­man be­ings who had an in­tel­lec­tual depth and breath that was awe­some. Yet he was nei­ther pompous nor ar­ro­gant,” Scott stated.

Scott ex­pressed how proud Ge­orge was of his sons and how he loved them “wholly and un­con­di­tion­ally with love as wide as the broad ex­panse of the skies; lim­it­less”.

Ra­di­ance trans­formed his face when he spoke of them, pride welled up in him when he shared their achieve­ment, and he beamed when he talked of the spe­cial, mag­i­cal, un­chained love Ge­orge had for Ke­neea.

Brian Ge­orge was re­mem­bered for hav­ing an in­fec­tious laugh­ter, one who could hold down a joke very well and who had an ef­fer­ves­cent per­son­al­ity. His knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of the re­gion, its pol­i­tics and peo­ples brought out all to the church to cel­e­brate the man who was re­galed as a bril­liant, as­tute, busi­ness mogul.

Brian Ge­orge’s in­nings came to an end last Sun­day – out for 59.

Good­bye, well played, Brian Regi­nald Austin Ge­orge.

PHO­TOS BY GLAD­STONE TAY­LOR/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Ke­neea Lin­ton-Ge­orge is over­come with grief as she col­lects the urn con­tain­ing the ashes of her late hus­band Brian Ge­orge.

The funeral ser­vice for Supreme Ven­tures CEO Brian Ge­orge.

From left: Min­is­ter Del­roy Chuck, Min­is­ter Olivia Grange, Dr Peter Phillips, and Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness at the funeral ser­vice of Brian Ge­orge at the St An­drew Parish Church.

Ke­neea Lin­ton-Ge­orge leav­ing the St An­drew Parish Church with the urn con­tain­ing the ashes of her late hus­band Brian Ge­orge. She is sup­ported by his sons Matthew (left) and Christopher.

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