Clarke – The busi­ness­man

Jamaica Gleaner - - OFC - ERICA VIRTUE Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@ glean­

TRIBUTES CON­TINUE to pour in for the late found­ing chair­man of The Gleaner Com­pany, Oliver Fred­er­ick Clarke, pop­u­larly called OFC, who died on Satur­day, May 16 at his St An­drew home.

Two cur­rent min­is­ters of the ex­ec­u­tive, cur­rent and for­mer fi­nance min­is­ters, Nigel Clarke and Aud­ley Shaw, re­mem­bered him as a vi­sion­ary with a sharp sense of hu­mour.

“Oliver Clarke was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness lead­ers of post-independen­t Ja­maica. He led a re­mark­able ca­reer, which will never be re­peated, and his leg­endary achieve­ments have had a pro­found im­pact on Ja­maica,” said Clarke in trib­ute fol­low­ing news of death. Clarke, who is un­re­lated to OFC, said the vi­sion­ary busi­ness acu­men and his il­lus­tri­ous cor­po­rate ex­ploits – some of the most sig­nif­i­cant of which oc­curred while he was still only in his 30s – earned Oliver the last­ing re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion of his peers.

He said it was nat­u­ral that, over time, “Oliver Clarke be­came widely re­garded as the chair­man’s chair­man. Ruth­lessly ra­tio­nal and prag­matic, with a wry, af­fec­tion­ate and en­ter­tain­ing sense of hu­mour. He could ef­fort­lessly main­tain the fo­cus of a meet­ing of di­verse and pow­er­ful egos ... . ”

“Above all, how­ever, Oliver was a com­mit­ted pa­triot who de­fended and greatly ad­vanced the val­ues of eco­nomic free­dom, press free­dom, good gov­er­nance, fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity and civil dis­course. He has been on the right side of his­tory, on nu­mer­ous is­sues, when these mat­tered most,” said Dr Nigel Clarke.

He de­scribed OFC as “al­ways in­tel­lec­tu­ally cu­ri­ous, and ap­plied his vast ac­cu­mu­lated knowl­edge to a wide range of so­cial in­ter­ests”. He re­called that the late Clarke founded and led vi­o­lence preven­tion, men­tor­ship and youth devel­op­ment pro­grammes with­out fan­fare or pub­lic­ity. “He also founded pub­lic pol­icy in­sti­tu­tions, or­gan­ised think tanks and, for decades, he catal­ysed, pro­moted and hosted mean­ing­ful so­cial di­a­logue.”

Ac­cord­ing the fi­nance min­is­ter, the late Clarke’s life was best summed up “not by the many per­sonal achieve­ments and ac­co­lades, but by his con­tri­bu­tion to Ja­maica. His con­tri­bu­tion has been wide, vast and im­mense. The best way to cel­e­brate his life is to con­tinue to cham­pion the val­ues he stood for.”

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