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Father Coombs reburied at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 16, 2013    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — More than four decades since noted political figure and trade unionist Allan Coombs, popularly known as "Father Coombs", was laid to rest in a pauper's grave, he was re-interred at the Oaklawn Memorial Gardens on the outskirts of Mandeville on Wednesday.

Through the efforts of the Lyn family, owners of his new burial place and Lyn's Funeral Home in Mandeville, his body was exhumed from the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston last month.

Although the procedure was not formalised, Sylvia Lyn describe herself as the "adopted" daughter of Coombs and harboured dissatisfaction about the way that he was buried, given his contribution to Jamaica.

Coombs was a founding member of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, the Jamaica Workers and Transport Union, Member of Parliament for North West St James and Communication and Works Minister under the People's National Party (PNP) Administration.

"It (took) me eight years to get all the paperwork through for the exhumation. He served his country and I think we should show respect to him although he is dead. [His former burial place] was in a bad condition, no tomb, just grass, it didn't look proper," said Lyn.

A small gathering participated in the reburial, but Lyn said that a monument is set to be built at his new burial place, and a memorial service will be held in his honour in Manchester or St James in October.

"I don't know about [the significance of the re-interment] to the public but I have to satisfy my mind," Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.

Among the things that Lyn remember Coombs doing for her, as a child growing up in Trelawny, was providing lunch money, buying books and driving her around when he was in the area.

Lyn's husband and former parliamentarian, Calvin, said that Coombs was instrumental in the construction of roadways in different areas of Jamaica, including sections of Manchester. He said that Coombs, during his political career, "fell out of grace" with then premier Norman Manley.

Calvin Lyn described Coombs' circumstances at the latter stage of his life as destitute, adding that he was not adequately recognised for his service to Jamaica.

Plans, said Calvin Lyn, are now being considered by the committee responsible for the PNP's 75th anniversary activities to honour the former parliamentarian.

"We got a call from a representative of the planning committee for the People's National Party 75th year anniversary celebrations from St James, and they are planning some form of function, symposium, lecture series, to name a few, in his memory," he said.

Calvin Lyn suggested that a bust of Coombs should also be erected in his honour the Anchovy Park in St James, an area which Coombs represented.

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