FALMOUTH, Trelawny — The Georgian town of Falmouth was yesterday plunged into shock when news broke that Joseph Wright, one of the country's longest serving mayor had died, a day after he was recognised by the Trelawny Parish Council for his 22 years of service in politics.
"Mr Wright was one of the greatest organisers that you will ever find. He was one of the easiest persons to work with," said Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson, who succeeded Wright as the People's National Party (PNP's) councillor for the Falmouth Division in 2003.
"I was not blessed to serve under his tenure at the council, but it was he who encouraged me to enter into representational politics," Mayor Wilkinson added.
The former mayor died at about 7:25 am yesterday at the MoBay Hope medical facility in St James, after ailing for several years.
According to Wilkinson, Wright, 85, who served as mayor of Falmouth for 17 consecutive years, "advised me to take care of the young people as well as the old people."
"He would never forget his kids and the elderly," Wilkinson stressed.
"He will be greatly missed and I strongly believe that Jamaica will be poorer for the passing of a stalwart like Joseph Wright. To be a councillor for 22 unbroken years and a mayor for nearly 18 years, show the strength and character of the person he was."
Wright was born in Ewarton, St Catherine, in 1928, and moved to Falmouth in 1970.
In 1981, he won the Falmouth Division on the PNP's ticket, and retired from representational politics in 2003.
Amidst the thrust of political office, he found time to serve residents as Justice of the Peace, and chairman of various organisations and charities.
His contribution to the development of the political process to Trelawny and Jamaica was acknowledged by the Government in 2001 when he was confirmed with the Order of Distinction, Officer Class.
He was known for his quiet, easy going, subtle but unyielding approach, stressing at all times that "honesty is the pathway to heaven".
Former Member of Parliament for North Trelawny, Desmond Leaky — who served the constituency from 1972-1980 and again from 1989-1997 — said Wright was one of his best councillors.
"Whenever I was going out of the constituency I would always ask him to deputise for me," said Leaky, adding that the former mayor "loved serving the people".
"A Christmas would never pass and he is not out there in his little van serving ice cream to the kids and treating the elderly," said Leaky.
Dr Leebert Wright, no relation to the former mayor, said the parish of Trelawny has lost one of the most dedicated councillors.
"He was non-partisan and very honest," Dr Wright stressed.