Biting words at thanksgiving service for world's former oldest woman

Son endorses plan to give body to UWI; lashes detractors for wanting, white rum, chicken back

Staff reporter

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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DUANVALE, Trelawny — Sylvera Russell, son of the late supercentenarian Violet Moss Brown, yesterday lashed out at those against the decision to donate his mother's body to The University of the West Indies for scientific research.

Moss Brown, a Duanvale, Trelawny, resident who at 117 held the record as the oldest living person, died on September 15.

Last week, scores of Duanvale residents staged a protest demanding that the body of their beloved late supercentenarian be laid to rest in the cemetery in her native community.

But speaking at the service of thanksgiving for the life of his mother at Trittonville Baptist Church in Duanvale yesterday, an obviously incensed Russell, in paying tribute to his mom, argued that a burial at the Duanvale Cemetery only meant “a bottle of white rum and some chicken back”.

“I want to tell those who decided to protest and make a big fuss over burying her, because what I think it was just about a bottle of white rum and some chicken back. She is more valuable up at the university more than in Duanvale,” Russell said.

He continued his rant even after attempts by Reverend Harrif Allison of the Trittonville Baptist Church, who whispered in his ear, seemingly beseeching the bereaved son to handle the situation in a different way.

“And, for those who are against me, I tell you, she is dead, but her brain value more, and is appreciated more than all of them together. They are the ones who should go down into the grave, because if their brain was splattered they (university) would not have no use for their brain. The dead has more use than them,” Russell said.

His tirade ignited howls of condemnation from angry congregants inside the church and under the tent erected outside.

At one point Reverend Allison intervened and asked the mourners to join him in a chorus that he started.

But after the singing died down Russell continued to vent his feelings.

“We have to give thanks to God for her, yes, but the fools out there who want to come and disrupt us, they are nothing but fools. One thing I would want to say, I give thanks to her. I understand her, and she understands me, and that's it. And we all will know what happen to her, we all will read about her and that's what it is,” Russell lashed out.

But following Russell's comments the remainder of the service proceeded seemlessly.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who represented Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the thanksgiving service, called on the bereaved family not to bring Moss Brown's name into disrepute.

“Don't matter what your differences are the only important person at this time is 'Aunt V'. And so I make a special appeal to you, make her proud, make Jamaica proud. And don't do anything at all that will make you or anyone else ashamed,” Grange appealed.

She made a similar call to community members.

“To the community, I say, let the life lived by 'Aunt V' shine on you all and make you live in peace and harmony with each other. We must rid our country of the negative violence and crime,” the culture minister stated.

In April this year Moss Brown became the world's oldest living person following the death of Italian Emma Morano, earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records for her longevity.

On September 3, Moss Brown was visited by representatives of the Guinness Book of Records, who presented her with a citation and the 2018 edition of the book.

The body will be turned over to the university tomorrow, those close to the family have said.




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