DR Juliet M Newell, the first appointed president of Jamaica Agro Processors Association (JAPA), was last week remembered as a woman of impeccable stature, whose contribution to the development and growth of Jamaica's agro processing industry is immeasurable.
Dr Newell, the founder, majority shareholder and managing director of Tijule Company Limited — a local agro processing company that produces and exports Jamaican hot and spicy sauce products under the brand names, Juliana and Nel's Old Time to overseas markets — died on January 14.
According to the mourners who offered tributes at the thanksgiving service celebrating her life, which was held at Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church located off Caledonia Road in Mandeville on January 27, Dr Newell was an entrepreneur, food scientist, nutritionist, and consummate professional, who had a nationalistic approach to the development and growth of Jamaica's agro processing industry.
Among those paying tribute was Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
Sir Patrick remembered Dr Newell as a phenomenal woman, a hard-working visionary, a good church sister of the Seventh-day Adventist faith and friend to him, who was highly respected by numerous employees, associates and friends.
"Dr Newell, food processor, business operator and a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, was well recognised as one of Jamaica's finest agro processors. She has left a significant void in the Caribbean and the wider society, where she was highly respected," the first stanza of the tribute stated.
"Dr Newell was acclaimed by many local and international organisations which diligently sought her recommendation and expertise on a range of matters relating to her field. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is significantly weaker, because of the loss of her, especially in the area of finance. She has contributed many things to the growth of this movement, and many will feel the loss for a very long time," Sir Patrick stated.
Following his tribute, Hon William Shagoury, Custos of Clarendon — the parish where her business, Tijule Company Ltd has been located since she started its operations in 1984 -- offered another tribute.
"I met Juliet many years ago, when she started Tijule, just a few hundred yards from my office. She was a very active member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and was always promoting her faith. In my first encounter with her, I said to myself, 'This lady has got to be very special to take up such a task for manufacturing for the local and foreign markets. She must either be crazy or very smart'," he said, which some mourners found amusing.
"Very soon, I found out that she was not crazy, but a visionary, hard-working and knew exactly what she was doing. It is said, that if someone leaves the world much better than how they found it when they came, they would have contributed a lot. That can be said of Juliet Newell," he added.
Monacia William, who offered a tribute on behalf of Tijule Company Limited, recalled her boss as being a dedicated and selfless woman who fought to keep the company, amidst all the challenges she faced since its inception 28 years ago.
"Doc has been trying to sell the factory for the past five or so years, but it remains unsold, because, as rumour has it, anytime a prospective buyer got near to making an offer, she found some way to increase the price," she said, to much laughter.
"You must understand that Tijule was her offspring, her heartbeat, her soulmate, her way of giving back to the community, by providing jobs for those who needed it. She started from humble beginnings and everybody knows 'Di Bammy Factory', because that is how it started, as a small factory producing bammy," Williams said.
"Presently, the income from that production is probably five per cent of the factory's earnings, but it is still known as the 'Bammy Factory'," she added before boasting more of how her late boss built and transformed her factory operations in a male-dominated industry.
A written tribute, from the Jamaica Bureau of Standards, described Dr Newell as a trailblazer in the field of food technology and manufacturing.
"Widely regarded for her pioneering role in the implementation of international management system standards, certification and the export of quality Jamaican products, Dr Newell has served her nation well," the Bureau said.
Nephew Kevin Findlay delivered the remembrance.
As a food scientist and nutritionist, Dr Newell used her experience in dietetics, nutrition, research and development to create food products of exceptional quality for export to countries, such as, China, Japan and the United States of America.
She was one of the first clients to have been contracted with the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) and paved the surface for other manufacturers to secure accreditation from ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to offer certification to ISO 14001.
She started Tijule Company with the aim of manufacturing bammy in Clarendon and grew her business from being known as 'Di Bammy Factory' in Clarendon, to producing and exporting canned ackee, hot pepper sauces, spicy nata paste, hot curry sauce, and hot jerk sauce under her company's two brands — Juliana and Nel's Old Time.
Dr Newell was born in Bartons, St Catherine, on July 5, 1938. She passed away at her home in May Pen, Clarendon, on January 14. She is survived by her sisters, Norma, Lunette, Neille, nieces, nephews and other relatives. She was buried at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens in Mandeville.