Jamaica’s fourth Governor General, the late Sir Howard Cooke, was today laid to rest at National Heroes Park, after his state funeral at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in downtown Kingston.
Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition leader, Andrew Holness, were among the hundreds of mourners who paid final respects to Sir Howard.
Former Prime Ministers, PJ Patterson, Edward Seaga and Bruce Golding, as well as Sir Howard’s widow, Lady Cooke, were among the mourners who packed the Cathedral.
Glowing tributes were paid to the man fondly called ‘Teacher’.
A man described as a true patriot and statesman.
Sir Howard’s state funeral was a fitting send-off for a man who served as the country’s Head of State for 15 years, between 1991 and 2006.
It had all the ceremonial trappings of a state funeral. The flag at the Holy Trinity Cathedral was flown at half mast, his coffin was draped in the national flag and several uniformed groups performed.
It was a moment when Jamaica said goodbye to one of its founding fathers.
The country had been observing a second day of national mourning as Sir Howard’s funeral took place. A sombre mood filled the Cathedral, but there was much thanksgiving and praise.
Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, described Sir Howard as a ‘colossus’, saying few have had as great an impact on Jamaica like him.
Mrs. Simpson Miller hailed Sir Howard as a man of compassion, tolerance and fairness.
The Prime Minister said he was ‘a vanguard in the nationalist movement in the 1930s’, and was ‘the quintessential manifestation of providing power for the people and power through the people’. She recalled his ‘broad smile’, saying he was her mentor and friend.
Mrs Simpson Miller says Sir Howard was a pioneer of the new Jamaica.
Former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, in delivering the remembrance, said he’s among Jamaica’s finest pioneers.
Others who paid tribute to Sir Howard described him as a man who could walk with kings, but who kept his common touch.
He was lauded as being the epitome of all that was ‘good, true and virtuous’.
No one forgot to mention his commitment to education. Sir Howard dedicated 23 years of his professional life to education, with a teaching career that began at the Mico College, in Kingston. He was affectionately called ‘Teacher’.
At his funeral service today, JTA President, Dr. Mark Nicely, described Sir Howard as ‘the consummate educator’.
He says of all the accolades bestowed on Sir Howard, he undoubtedly cherished being called ‘Teacher’.
Sir Howard Cooke was a founding member of the People’s National Party. He was a Trade Unionist, a Member of Parliament, a Senator, Government Minister, and Elder and Lay Pastor, before becoming Governor General.
He was today praised for never being partisan despite spending over 70 years in politics.
Sir Howard – who was Jamaica’s third native Governor General – died on July 11, aged 98.
He was born on November 13, 1915.