Jamaicans from all walks of life celebrated the life of broadcasting icon Neville 'Uncle Nev' Willoughby in a tearless service at the Church of St Margaret in Liguanea, St Andrew yesterday.
Willoughby died in the University Hospital of the West Indies as a result of head injuries he received in a car accident on Molynes Road in St Andrew on December 10. His body was cremated on Wednesday.
Although there were no tears, the tributes were many.
His long-time friend and colleague, Easton Lee, remembered 'Uncle Nev' as a hard worker whose calm demeanour made him a most liked individual.
"He was always willing to help and was not too proud to ask for help," Lee said. "Those of us who have had the experience of working with him or watching him work can say how much time he took to prepare. Neville was a brave soul."
Other tributes came from RJR Communications Group Chairman, Lester Spaulding, soloist Pat Gooden and a recorded tribute featuring the voices of budding presenter, Fiona Fennel and Winston Dawes Jnr.
Reverend Canon Vivian Cohen delivered the sermon and urged the congregation not to question God for promoting to glory a man credited for breaking reggae music on local radio.
"We now wrest with the death of a father, a grandfather and colleague who enriched the quality of national life," Cohen said.
Willoughby's two daughters, Justine and Marissa, sat sombrely throughout the thanksgiving ceremony for their departed father.
The Government was represented by Attorney-General AJ Nicholson, while Opposition Leader Bruce Golding and mayor of Kingston, Desmond McKenzie represented the Opposition.
Scores of media and entertainment personalities, along with ordinary Jamaicans filled the pews of the St Margaret church.
Neville Willoughby was born on May 5, 1937. He attended Jamaica College and worked as a lab technician at the University Hospital in his first job after leaving school.
Willoughby spent more than 30 years in radio where he hosted Pipeline, Let's Talk, The Colgate Cavity Fighters Club and The Evening People Show.
In his last years, Willoughby produced the day time talk show, Hot Line and presented news, among other functions.
For his outstanding work, Willoughby was awarded the Order of Distinction, the Prime Minister's Medal and the Bronze Musgrave Medal.
He was 69 years old at the time of his passing.
His voice soothed and touched many ordinary Jamaicans, some of whom turned up to pay their last respects to the legend of radio.
"Me never know him personally, but me have fi come a the funeral fi pay my respect to them man yah. Him was truly great," one mourner who gave her name only as Addassa, told the Observer.