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Dr C, we were richer for having you

Sunday, August 12, 2012    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester - In mid July the tragic passing of Mandeville radiologist Dr Phil Maxwell Chamberlain shocked a wide cross section of people within and outside of the Mandeville community.

Though it was said at his Thanksgiving Service held at the New Beulah Moravian Church in Mandeville recently, that "his tragic murder we still can't understand" his memory was honoured with pleasant recollections from some of the persons whose lives he touched.

In "snapshots" of experiences with him by family members, outlined in the funeral programme, individuals had their own personal memories of him, but together they all captured the character of "a man with an undeniably big heart".

Dr Peter Wellington, speaking on behalf of the medical fraternity, including the Mandeville Regional Hospital, said that Chamberlain's "quiet charm" was never interrupted by the "stress and strains" of life.

He said that Chamberlain started the Mandeville Radiology and Imaging Services (MRIS) in the year 2000 at a time when computers were due to shut down, aeroplanes were due to fall from the sky, and order was to turn to chaos. Conversely, MRIS has "blossomed and became a centre of excellence" on Brumalia Road in Central Jamaica benefitting, among other persons, medical practitioners in the public sector.

Wellington noted that they could call on Chamberlain at any hour to do an emergency imaging study and help to save a critically injured patient.

He said, too, that he never failed to offer service to patients who lacked the adequate financial resources, and oftentimes they would "prey upon him" by sending him these patients.

"We were all the richer for having met him, and so much poorer for having lost him," he said.

Dr Lloyd Quarrie, another of Chamberlain's medical colleagues said that Mandeville and Jamaica has lost an individual with a set of skills and competencies which cannot be easily replaced.

An employee from the Kingston branch of his radiology and imaging services business said that "Dr C" was more like family to his employees than a boss. She said that they were challenged to strive for excellence, not through ten-page manuals or memorandums, but by him believing in them and leading by example. By observing him she said they were able to see "what the better side of humanity looked like".

Haitian-born Jean Gaetjens formed a long-lasting friendship and became a business associate of Chamberlain after they met in a store where Gaetjens worked in Washington DC. With voice breaking in his tribute to him he explained that he was able to help bring Chamberlain's business decisions to reality, and in exchange he learnt how to be kind, have faith in the future and to love by merely observing him. He said that there is no doubt in his mind that he got the "better part" of the partnership and if their sons who are now in business together should achieve half the relationship that they had it would be a blessing.

Chamberlain's son Patrick, in his remembrance of his father, said that all the pleasant stories that he has heard about him are "accurate" of the man he knew. He said that while his father tried to prepare him for the day when he would no longer be around, he never wanted that day to come at all.

Reverend Robert Patmore, in addressing the congregation, said that he found it "paradoxical" how a person like Chamberlain, who seemed to want to make life better for people, could be attacked. He, however, urged the gathering to continue praying, because there is hope and God is still in control.

"It doesn't make sense for us to give up. Our God will redeem and come to save this world. Those people who are committing atrocities will never be allowed to overrun this beautiful land of ours," he said.

Chamberlain's early life was shaped in the Elderslie community in St Elizabeth, and the Elderslie Baptist Church Cemetery was chosen as his final resting place. The offering was taken in aid of the Elderslie Past Students' Association, The Elderslie Baptist and New Beulah Church's Building Fund.

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