Friends and political foes alike mourn passing of PNP's Ewan StephensonFriday, September 10, 2021
BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — For many people in St Elizabeth South Western (SW), Ewan Stephenson was thought of more as a friend than a politician seeking their votes.
Stephenson, who represented the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) in the September 2020 General Election, losing to Floyd Green in St Elizabeth SW as the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) swept to a 49-14 victory, died yesterday at age 59 after an intense bout with stomach cancer.
Friends and political foes alike are mourning the loss of Stephenson who, prior to entering politics, was a banker. He was also an investor in farming and fishing.
At the monthly meeting of the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, councillors stood for a minute's silence on hearing of Stephenson's passing. Mayor of Black River and chairman of the council Derrick Sangster conveyed condolence to Stephenson's family and friends on behalf of his colleagues.
Councillor Dwight Salmon (PNP, Black River Division) later told the Jamaica Observer that a “good heart has stopped beating… Ewan has made a great impact on the lives of people in South West St Elizabeth and beyond”.
Salmon noted that many business people in Black River have praised Stephenson for helping them to raise the initial capital for their businesses during his time as a banker.
“I have never met anyone with such a kind heart and always willing to help,” said Salmon.
Hopeton McCatty, chairman of the PNP's Region Five (St Elizabeth and Manchester) who kept a close eye during Stephenson's foray into competitive politics, described him as a “humble, kind-hearted” person.
“He was not just active in politics, 'Stevo' was a clean-hearted, good somebody who loved people,” said McCatty.
“Stevo nah lie to you, him nah trick yuh. He was just a clean-hearted human being…” he added.
Green, in paying tribute on social media, noted that political differences never hindered his relationship with Stephenson.
“Regardless of our political views, Ewan and I have always shared a good relationship, and I have always found him to be cordial, engaging, and passionate about service,” said Green.
Former Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western and current Health and Wellness Minister Dr Chris Tufton, who was related through marriage to Stephenson, described him in glowing terms.
“Ewan, my brother and friend for over thirty years. You were kind, gentle, and sincere. Death has terminated your journey but will never devalue your legacy,” said Tufton.
Stephenson first came to national prominence in 2015 when he challenged Hugh Buchanan — former Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth SW and son of the legendary Danny Buchanan — for leadership of the PNP's constituency organisation. Buchanan won the internal contest by just 14 delegate votes, but would later lose the traditionally marginal seat to Green by more than 2,000 votes in the 2016 parliamentary election.
In 2017 Stephenson was confirmed as the PNP's flag bearer in the constituency. In early 2020 he confirmed persistent rumours that he was battling cancer, telling the Observer that he had done stomach surgery.
“They [doctors] did a good job and I am very optimistic…” he said then.
In the 2020 election, Stephenson lost to Green by 2,106 votes, as the JLP swept all four seats in St Elizabeth.