Former MP Sam Lawrence dies at 73

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer correspondent

Monday, January 28, 2013

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NORWICH, Portland — Former People's National Party (PNP) member of parliament for East Portland Sam Lawrence died at the Port Antonio Hospital yesterday morning at the age of 73.

Lawrence was an active politician until his death as he was present at the PNP National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Trelawny on Sunday.

Councillor Dexter Rowland, who was very close to Lawrence, said they travelled to the NEC meeting together as Lawrence was interested in meeting with some ministers of Government about concerns for the people.

"Friday I told him I was going to NEC Sunday and he jumped at it and said he wanted to travel with me. He was a politician right to the last. He wanted to travel with me as he was concerned about the roads and light at the Passley Gardens settlement, the roads in Norwich, some of the small farmers and some of the housing conditions people lives in," Rowland told the Jamaica Observer.

Added the councillor: "He was very involved in workshops at the NEC meeting, spoke to all of the ministers he wanted to see, and got some promises from some of them. It would be good if they live up to those promises.

"[While travelling] we spoke about a lot of things from government to religion; we discussed the future development of Port Antonio and was glad that the Port Antonio water sewage and drainage project was going to start because he was the one who initiated that project in the early 1990s. He was feeling very enthused and wanted to be involved and was to meet with one of the contractors this (yesterday) morning.

"I was calling him about 9:30 and couldn't get him and that was when I heard he was in the hospital. When I left him he was in good spirit and enthused about the future development of the parish. He was full of life and loved the people. He was a giving man, giving to his family, giving to the people, giving to his country. He could have made it anywhere in the world, based on his qualifications, but he chose to come back to Jamaica to help build his country. I hope that his soul will rest in peace," Rowland said.

"He was a socialist and had tremendous respect and love for the people. I remember when I met him in 1984 this was what struck me most of all about him. He was always concerned about the people's welfare and what he would like to see them achieve. He came into politics with about five vehicles and a lot of cows and when he was leaving he left with two vehicles — a broken down Cressida and a little old pick-up — and had lost most of his cows which he sold to keep people's lives together. That shows you what a tremendous love he had for the poor and the care that he showed through his life even when he was retired as an MP. He was helping a lot of people to go to school and to start their own business; he didn't have a lot of money but he made great sacrifices as he loved people," added Councillor Rowland.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who yesterday expressed sadness and shock at Lawrence's sudden passing, said he was his usual thoughtful and amiable self at Sunday's NEC meeting. "Those personal traits had been evident during his tenure as member of parliament between 1989 and 1997. He was approachable, diligent and methodical in carrying out his responsibilities, serving his constituents faithfully and well," said the prime minister.

"Between 1989 and 1993, as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Development, Planning and Production, he made a significant contribution to the work being done on the environment and in agricultural production. After two terms in the Jamaican Parliament, Sam Lawrence went on to become an advisor to Caricom and served in Guyana where he drew on his experience and training in both agriculture and business.

"[He was] a loyal colleague and a hard worker who never lost sight of the fact that his was a call to the service of others. We will miss Sam Lawrence, another bright and committed Jamaican whose loss is deeply felt by all who knew him," said Simpson Miller.

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