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Goodbye, 'Terr'

Ainsworth Morris

Monday, September 03, 2012    

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IF their faces and tears didn't say it, their words certainly did.

Family, friends and former colleagues of the late Derven 'Terr' Burgess — who on Saturday gathered to pay their last respects to the man they knew to be sociable, jovial, energetic — were at pains to accept that they would no longer be drawn into his arguments, smell his cologne, hear him laugh.

"Many of us believe that he is gone too soon," family member Veleta Pryce said as she read the eulogy.

Her words became the chorus of the service, held at Portmore Moravian Church, as mourner after mourner shared their memories of 'Terr'.

Burgess, 52, passed away on August 15, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in March. He was employed to the Jamaica Observer's transport department when he became ill.

Arlette Boswell recalled her cousin as a man who always took pride in his attire and stood out wherever he went.

"His favourite colour was cream and when it came to dressing, he was the best. Neatness was Terr's number one priority when going out. When you did not see Terr, you could know when he was around; you could smell his fragrance. He loved to iron and sports, music and fashion were just a few of Terr's interests," Boswell said.

"Politics was another [of his interests]. He loved reading the newspaper. Motty Perkins was his favourite journalist and Motty is never wrong for him," she said, which roused a knowing round of laughter from the congregants.

Her only regret, Boswell said, was not having fulfilled one of 'Terr's' last wishes.

She said after hearing of his diagnosis, she visited him once. He told her to return soon and take him some chicken back soup. She planned on returning to cook him that meal, but he died before she could.

"Derven did not get to see his son, Damoni, complete primary school. He did not get to see his daughter, Jody, complete her nursing career," Pryce said, her voice cracking.

His loss, she added, was a blow not only for his wife, Jennifer, and children, but for his 12 siblings and his father, Herbert, whom he first learnt about in 2008.

"Derven grew with his maternal family and always thought of himself as an only child. This changed in 2008, when, as fate would have it, he met a young lady at the Papine Pharmacy who had the Burgess surname. After investigation, she turned out to be his paternal sister, Fayon. He also learnt of his six brothers and six sisters and met his father for the first time," Pryce said.

Burgess, who was born on December 15, 1959, was raised by his mother, Daphne Williams. Prior to his diagnosis, he was in the process of completing the bonding process with his paternal family members.

Prior to Pryce's reading of the eulogy and Boswell's remembrance, Burgess' former colleagues at the Observer did a rendition of You are God Alone. Other song tributes were presented by Neville Baker and Jeneva Graig who did Amazing Grace and It is well with my soul.

Their performances were followed by Maxine Panther, who did David Phelps' popular gospel single No More Night.

She offered words of encouragement to the family before her performance. She said: "God is right here holding your hands through this. I know our brother shared this hope before he passed."

The service was officiated by Reverend Germaine Lovelace, the very paster who baptised Burgess three days before he passed.

"Even three days before his death, God was on time in his life," Lovelace said in his sermon. "In his latter days, he realised that if he died without God, he would perish."

Burgess was interred at Meadowrest Memorial Gardens.

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