Manchester has lost a father figure in Birkley Bennett
BUSINESSMAN Birkley Bennett was remembered as a great corporate citizen, philanthropist and father figure at a thanksgiving service for his life at the Bryce United Church in Coleyville, Manchester on Thursday, August 13.
Bennett, who was shot and killed by gunmen on July 24, was sent off in an emotional ceremony, which saw hundreds of persons from central Jamaica converging on the small church to pay their respects to a true son of the Jamaican soil.
Manager for the Christiana branch of Scotia Bank, Rohan Hoilett, was a picture of grief as he described Bennett's kindness.
"Funny, warm and protective were the hallmarks of Mr Bennett. Cooking and entertainment was his passion. His generosity knew no bounds," Hoilett said.
Even before the thanksgiving service commenced, hundreds of mourners flocked the church to catch a glimpse of his body lying majestically in his casket.
The small church was bursting at the seams as persons from all walks of life came to pay their final respects to a man who had touched the lives of so many.
Not only was the church overcrowded but an additional hall and a tent, which was erected outside the hall with closed-circuit coverage, were also filled to the brim.
The mourners who were late did not seem to mind standing in the sun for hours as tribute after tribute was paid to a man who had paid his dues as a corporate citizen.
The tears flowed freely and everywhere the words of praise issued from all who attended, even a vendor outside the church grounds seemed aggrieved at the tragic loss.
"This has hit everybody in these parts so hard. The man was so good to everyone. Him was a true man. A real loveable person who had done so much for the people without even thinking about it. Him was a man who never feel good if him don't help somebody. We lose one of our best sons," the vendor said.
Justice of the Peace Valenton Wint lamented the fact that Bennett had lost his life in such a macabre fashion.
"Mr Bennett had migrated with his family because of crime, but returned and fell victim to the same crime monster," Wint said.
Member of parliament for North East Manchester Audley Shaw also paid tribute to Bennett, with whom he said, he had shared drinks on numerous occasions.
"Birkley was a good husband and father to his children. He was a businessman of heart. The old lady would come to him and say the chicken them going dead and him would give her the feeding and say, I not going write down nothing, but remember I mark you," Shaw said.
Birkley Bennett was born on December 17 in Robin's Hall, Manchester. He was the second child of Percival and Millicent Bennett.
He attended the Christiana Secondary School.
After graduating Bennett joined his father in a trucking business before branching out on his own to become a full-time farmer and businessman who operated farm stores in Christiana and Spalding.
He exchanged wedding vows with Rose Baker of Davyton in 1983.
Birkley Bennett is survived by his widow Rose, children Birkley Jnr, Kavon and Camielle, five sisters, one brother and a host of other relatives and friends at home and abroad.
His remains were interred in the Robin's Hall United Church Cemetery.