VERNAL Foster was remembered for his admirable qualities: diligent, industrious, gentle, and pleasant. These were the testimonals from family-members and friends who paid tribute at his thanksgiving service held at the chapel at Meadowrest Memorial Gardens where he was interred recently.
"He was a Rastafarian, upright and decent man with pearly white locks and beard. He was warm and kind and so it was always nice to be near him. He was tall, dark and handsome, so we can be sure he may have had many great loves, may have even broken many hearts," was how Sheldon Morant remembered his grand uncle, affectionately called 'Sleepie', 'Fisher' or 'Kai Kai'.
His grand-nephew said that, "as a young man, he worked as a labourer on the Bernard Lodge Estate for many years, was a very industrious man who tried his hand at many different jobs. He was strong. He was diligent. He committed himself wholeheartedly to his tasks. He was never slothful or lazy; he was a very hard worker."
Foster was selected to enter the Farm Work Programme in the 1960s. He did this for a number of years, travelling back and forth to the United States and continued to work in the programme until the early 1970s.
Foster was born on October 6, 1929, in the district of Leeds in St Elizabeth to parents Walter Foster and Ethel Gayle, both deceased.
During his formative years, he attended the Leeds All-Age School for a short time until his mother took all of her children to the Newlands District now part of Portmore in St Catherine, where they settled.
Vernal left Newlands in the late 1970's and settled in Spanish Town. He then started fishing and became known as 'Fisher' in Spanish Town because he was often seen offering his day's catch for sale.
"Around March of this year Fisher began complaining of ill health. He was taken back to Newlands, where he could be near us and we could properly care for him," Morant said.
"Here, a comfortable, warm home was provided for him and his youngest brother Sylvester, by his maternal niece, Jennifer.
"However, it was his paternal niece, Janet, who physically cared for him. She prepared his meals and gave him warm baths. It was Janet who discovered that his health had failed him on the morning of August 30, 2012. Shortly thereafter, he took his last breath," Morant added. A post-mortem examination revealed that Vernal died of cancer of the thyroid.
He leaves behind family members and a host of friends.