Joint funeral for inseparable friends

Drowned NCU students remembered as a 'blessing'

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, March 07, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Friends from they were children, those who knew former Northern Caribbean University (NCU) students Joseph Anderson and Karanjah Gayle can continue to share the stories of their many shared adventures.

The last such activity was an ill-fated trip to Frenchman's Bay beach in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, on New Year's Eve, where the young men, both 26 years old, drowned.

At a joint funeral at NCU's Gymnatorium on Sunday (March 3), their faces both appeared on the funeral programme and on the pictures on display.

However, there was only one casket, as efforts to recover Gayle's body were unsuccessful due to high tides and the appearance of sharks.

Gayle's uncle Donovan Jones told the congregation that that reality is particularly daunting for the family.

“We do not have a body here today (Sunday) and this is the first experience in our family. It is different; it is new; it is sad; it is challenging. We have had some very rough moments, family members crying out in their sleep; family members asking many questions, wanting to go back to the location, cannot understand how the body could not be retrieved…,” he said.

Gayle was remembered as mature beyond his years, one who never held grudges, was always smiling and was never shy in expressing his love and care for others.

Anderson, however, was said to be reserved, and was described as playful and possessing a heart of gold.

Joining the Jamaica Defence Force was a dream he nurtured and he enlisted in 2017.

In a remembrance from the National Reserve, he was said to be a “quiet storm” because although he seemed unassuming, he excelled tremendously during training.

“Private Anderson died on the 31st of December 2018, approximately 15 months to the date of his enlistment in the National Reserve. We still struggle with his passing and continue to express a degree of difficulty…,” read the reflection.

Anderson was married and he and Gayle were fathers to young sons.

Family members of the two men were ashore at Treasure Beach when they heard they got into difficulties.

Anderson's sister, Hannah, said in a tribute Sunday that she should've gone on the trip too. However, on the day they were leaving, her brother said that they were unable to wait for her.

Gayle was completing a degree in the Department of Communication Studies at NCU while Anderson was pursuing studies in Computer Science.

President of Northern Caribbean University, Dr Lincoln Edwards described the young men as a “blessing” whose lives were examples to their fellowmen.

Pastor Rohan Spencer, in the homily, said that he admired Gayle and Anderson for believing in the dignity and honour of labour.

He said that they worked on campus at NCU and were not concerned about the type of job, but were more focused on achieving their goals.

Spencer said, too, that he would have preferred that their colleagues had the opportunity to gather at the gymnatorium for their graduation instead of their farewell service.

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