Carl Rattray remembered for great accomplishments, good humour

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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FOR many Jamaicans, Justice R Carl Rattray was an outstanding lawyer and politician who created history as the only person since Independence to serve in all three branches of government — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.


But to those who knew him best, Rattray was the exemplary family man, loyal friend who relished a good argument and told a great story, and part-time poet with a "poor driving record".


The historic University Chapel at the University of the West Indies Mona provided an ideal backdrop for family, colleagues and well-wishers to bid farewell to the former member of Parliament, government minister and president of the Court of Appeal.


Family friend Howard Malcolm, who grew up in Mona Heights and whose late parents were friends of the Rattrays, recalled "Uncle Carl" as an excellent conversationalist with an easy charm and booming laughter, always ready for a boisterous discussion with his circle of close friends.


Malcolm brought a smile to the faces of mourners as he recalled Justice Rattray as "a notoriously bad driver" who had numerous unfortunate episodes on the road.


Malcolm joked how after several attempts, Rattray's daring driving skills scared his driving examiner into giving him a driver's licence.


Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, his partner in the law firm Rattray Patterson Rattray and Cabinet colleague, said Rattray had "an illustrious career marked by signposts of spectacular performance".


Called to the Bar in England in 1956, Patterson recalled that Rattray served as minister of justice and attorney general as well as short stints as minister of education and minister of labour and justice in the 1970s.


The former prime minister said Rattray played a key role in the far-reaching legislature of the 1970s that raised the status of every Jamaican worker.


"He was not just concerned with victims but also the perpetrators of crime and violence. He saw in every guilty man a soul to be saved and a life to be turned around," Patterson said.


Making what Patterson called a seamless transition from politics to becoming president of the Court of Appeal, Rattray would, in a short time, "prove his detractors wrong by his integrity, legal acumen and the depth of his jurisprudicial range".


Chief Justice Zaila McCalla said Rattray was "consumed with a passion for justice" and recalled his "unquestionable character, integrity, humility, wit, compassion and graciousness."


Rev Dr Artnel Henry of Saxthorpe Methodist Church described "Brother Carl" as a practising Christian who attended church services and functions regularly with his wife Audrey, despite his busy schedule. Rev Henry said Rattray's Christian witness was expressed in two books of poems he authored, and his family's generous contributions to church charities.


Lawyer Valerie Neita Robertson, speaking on behalf of the Jamaican Bar Association, recalled Justice Rattray's pioneering work in the formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice, as well as his "fairness, sense of justice, sense of humour, and patience with and courtesy to counsel, fellow judges and members of the public".


Novar McDonald of the Dispute Resolution Foundation recalled Rattray's contribution to the organisation as justice minister and attorney general and one of seven founding members of the then Dispute Resolution Council of Jamaica.


The Bible lessons were read by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Senator Arthur Williams on behalf of Opposition Leader Andrew Holness.


Justice Rattray is survived by wife of 60 years, Audrey; four children — Andrew, Robin, Charmaine, and Carla; and nine grandchildren.


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