VETERAN racehorse trainer Frank Parham was remembered as a pioneer in the racehorse industry who has left a vacancy that will be hard to fill.
The Belizian-born Jamaican who passed away on August 11 served the industry with distinction over the past 40 years and was a successful trainer who not only saddled many winners, but also advocated for the rights of players in the industry.
During his time he served as first vice-president of the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association and was also a presidential candidate.
At the time of his death he was vice president for the newly formed United Racehorse Trainers' Association.
On Friday, August 24, members of the horse racing industry along with Parhams's friends and relatives turned out at the Holy Cross Catholic Church on Half-Way-Tree Road in Kingston to pay their final respect.
In the many tributes that flowed Parham was remembered as a gentle human being who lived an exemplary live for others to follow.
Parham's son, Marcel who delivered a rendition of the song, Lord Usher me into Your Presence, remembered his father as an exceptional disciplinarian who was always protective of his children.
"If I was in taxi he would tell me to tell the taxi man not to drive fast, and before I got off he would call and asked me if I told the taxi man and I would just say yes dad even though I didn't say anything to the driver," Marcel said, as tears ran down his face.
"If I call my father and tell him that I was leaving school he would call me every five or 10 minutes to check up on me before I got home, that's just how protective my father was," he added.
His brother Leon, recalled his father as a brilliant and multi-talented man who taught him a lot of things.
"I can remember him teaching me mathematics and about horse racing. He taught me a lot of things that was not in my school syllabus," he said. "Anything that he took up he was good at, he was a good musician and very good football and table tennis player."
Leon said his father went through many difficult situations which he shared with him and that has inspired him to fight against the odds and to be a better individual.
Among those paying tribute to Parham from the racehorse fraternity was Bunny Vincent, first vice president of the United Racehorse Trainers Association and attorney Rudolph Muir who offered condolence to Parham's family on behalf of the horseracing fraternity.
Vincent, a close friend of the deceased, said that Frank entered the industry approximately 40 years ago and during his time established himself in every facet of the game and advocated for the betterment of the entire racing fraternity.
"He was a most pragmatic individual who was symbolic in protecting the well being, rights and justice of the common man of racing," he said. "He was tenacious in his daily struggle and the daily struggles that affected jockeys, trainers and grooms."
"In racing, Frank was a beacon of the core, like everyone else in life he had struggles and challenges but not once did this horseracing gladiator flinch. Why? Because he possessed a spark of celestial body called dignity. Frank's time on earth has ended and racing has lost one of its better leaders and this vacuum will be hard to fill," Vincent added.
For his part Muir remembered Parham as a fierce and passionate advocate for horse racing who made an invaluable contribution to the sport.
In offering condolence to the family he urged them to find solace in the life that Parham lived, the examples he set in the home, and the work that he did and legacy that he left.
Parham, who migrated to Jamaica at a very early age, leaves behind three sons, Marcel, Leon and Sean, three brothers, other relatives and friends. His body was cremated.