Clarke – The businessman
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.”