Anglican Church, National Chorale hail Easton Lee

Anglican Church, National Chorale hail Easton Lee

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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The head of the Anglican Church in the West Indies yesterday expressed regret at the passing of retired priest, The Rev Fr Easton Lee and noted that his extensive professional experience, wide-ranging skills, and knowledge and insight of the Jamaican culture and psyche, served him well as he ministered to congregations across the island.

Lee, a former broadcaster, actor and theatre director, died yesterday morning in Florida after a short illness. He was 89.

Born in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny, on February 19, 1931 to a Chinese father, Henry, and a Jamaican mother, Ercie, Lee spent his formative years in Siloah, St Elizabeth. He attended Siloah Primary, Duncans Primary and Windsor High schools.

His biography posted on the National Library of Jamaica website notes that after leaving high school he joined the Caribbean Thespians Dramatic Society, at the time the leading group of its kind in Jamaica, and soon established himself as a major acting talent. This interest was broadened and enhanced when he went to work with the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, now Social Development Commission, a job which took him to every corner of the country.

However, his professional career was spent chiefly in the field of communication where he maintained a high standard of excellence as a radio announcer at the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation; or television announcer; director of audio-visual programming at Jamaica Information Service.

Yesterday, Archbishop of the West Indies, The Most Rev Howard Gregory, noted that Lee entered the priesthood after a stellar career as a broadcaster, communication specialist and dramatist.

He was ordained a deacon in July 2000 and a priest in 2001. He served as assistant curate at All Saints Church in West Kingston, St Luke's Church, Cross Roads, and St Margaret's Church, Liguanea.

“In December 2004, he was appointed director of Hillcrest Diocesan Retreat Centre in Brown's Town, St Ann, and held that post until 2007 when he migrated to the United States of America. There, he joined the pastoral team of the Holy Family Church in Florida,” Archbishop Gregory stated in a news release.

“Through the years, Fr Lee maintained close contact with our Diocese, and in 2013 he joined his colleagues in Jamaica for Clergy in Concert at which he presented readings from one of his acclaimed publications,” Archbishop Gregory said and extended condolence, on behalf of the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, to Fr Lee's widow Jean, their children and the extended family.

Christopher Samuda, chairman of the National Chorale of Jamaica, also expressed regret at Lee's passing, saying “He was not merely an author, a playwright, dramatist, poet and novelist; he was an orator and a historian of the drama of life and living which rose prophetically and inspiringly in the east and is now reposed in the west”.

Samuda said, in death, “Lee has given us an immortal gift of truth in the spoken and written word, an autobiography of cultural pollination and authenticity and a home-grown 'yard' pride in self-belief and validation”.

Samuda noted that Lee, in his book, From Behind the Counter, “mirrored our ancestral roots and limbs of generations with cultural integrity and a deep love for his own who never forsook him”.

“I remember him, as does the National Chorale of Jamaica, for his abiding friendship, decency and the reverent grace with which he accepted our Medal of Excellence in May 2019 a token of our gratitude.”

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