Michael Pickersgill was a national treasure
ON March 13, ten days after his sudden passing, family members, relatives, friends and well-wishers gathered at the University Chapel in Mona, St Andrew to pay their final respects to Michael Anthony Pickersgill, former chairman of the board of Clarendon College.
He was 69 years old.
Pickersgill's brother-in-law, Glendon Nam, remembered him as a loving husband to his wife Fay and an exceptional father to his children Shakira and Taryn.
"He genuinely loved people and was concerned about them, indeed for all humanity. Tony could not say 'no' to anyone, especially if the person was a family member. Tony was everyone's favourite uncle because he took a keen interest in how their individual lives were developing. He was the one who was always in touch with everyone and he didn't need special occasions to do so," Nam said as he delivered the remembrance.
Pickersgill's daughter Shakira, clearly shaken by the loss of her father, said she loved and respected him unconditionally.
"There were so many facets to Daddy. First and foremost, he exemplified the qualities of a true gentleman. We were often teased that we would never be able to find a partner who would match up to the qualities embodied in Daddy," Shakira said.
"He was gentle, patient, selfless, sincere and kind and went beyond the call of duty to ensure that everyone was well taken care of. He was the voice of reason and a mentor to many. He was the 'go to' guy and he never once said no to anyone. As so many have said, he had the gift of making others feel valued and appreciated. No matter how tired or busy he was, Daddy always found time to give everyone special individual attention, advice and encouragement," she added.
She reflected on her father's health crisis in November and December 2011, when he seemed to have reached the end of the road. But miraculously he pulled through, she said.
Lifelong friend William McLeod reflected on their friendship.
"We met in a Sunday School class at the Salem Congregational Church in Chapelton and within a few days we again found ourselves in the same class at the primary school (where) we started a life-changing friendship that lasted for 63 years," McLeod said.
"He was born and baptised in the church and was nurtured in Sunday schools. He had his education in a mission school of faith and he, with Fay, made their confession of faith in Easter 1974 at St Stephen's United Church," McLeod added.
Pickersgill, whose brother Robert is the minister of Water, Land and Climate Change, was enrolled in Clarendon College on January 15, 1957 at the age of 12 on a Government scholarship.
Given his love for cricket, he was one of two high school boys selected in 1974 for training with the Jamaica National Cricket Team.
After completing his studies at Clarendon College, he was awarded a Sugar Manufacturers' Association Scholarship to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI) from where he graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and accounts.
He was employed to West Indies Pulp and Paper and served as sales manager, general manager, managing director and chairman of the Group of Companies. In 1983, he became part-owner of the enterprise.
Pickersgill also served as the chairman of NPG Insurance Brokers Limited and Island Dairies Limited.
He was a founding member of the Rotary Club of St Andrew North. He chaired the board of the Polly Ground Primary School in St Catherine as well as Clarendon College for 20 years.
He was conferred with the Order of Distinction in 2013, was a long-standing member of the People's National Party's National Executive Council and served on several public sector boards, including the Port Authority of Jamaica.
Pickersgill was the sixth of nine children for Armond and Sophia Pickersgill. He was predeceased by his brother Ruddy and sister Judy.
He is survived by his wife, Fay, two daughters, Shakira and Taryn, and other relatives.
His remains were interred in the family plot at Devon Pen, St Mary.