Harriat Pershad Maragh, the employee who acquired Lannaman and Morris shipping agency just over two decades ago and transformed it into one of the region's largest and most respected group of companies, was yesterday euologised as a visionary, humble, and caring leader who had a deep love for his family, staff, and Jamaica.
The man, who was more popularly known as Harry Maragh, was interred at Dovecot Cemetery in St Catherine after a moving thanksgiving service for his life at Roman's Funeral Home chapel in St Andrew attended by family and few close friends in keeping with COVID-19 safety requirements.
Maragh, who was 71, died suddenly on January 3, sending the local and international shipping industry into shock.
Yesterday, Lannaman and Morris General Manager Leon Campbell described Maragh as a father figure to all the company's staff.
“Everyone found it easy to approach him on any matter — whether it relates to work, your personal interest or to engage in any discussion on general affairs,” Campbell said in his tribute.
“I can recall those afternoons in the car park when everyone would gather to hear the latest joke or just soak in his affable demeanour as he spoke on music, sports, and life.”
Stating that Maragh was not only a boss to the team, Campbell said he was “a humble, kind, caring, and loving leader who maintained an open-door policy to every member of the organisation. Everyone was equally important to him — a culture that is now deeply embedded in the organisation”.
He said while Maragh was known as an astute businessman, he was firstly a family man who loved his wife and children dearly.
“He believed in the total development of the whole person and would go the extra mile for his staff as he saw us as his family.”
To emphasise his point, Campbell pointed out that the majority of the staff have been with the company for more than a decade, and some have been there for as many as three decades.
“Some of us have been with the boss since he acquired Lannaman and Morris in 1997 from the original owners. We were witnesses to his passion for the industry and his drive to make Lannaman and Morris the best agency in the region. We had a front-row seat to all the achievements and were always his biggest cheerleaders,” Campbell said.
“The great Jamaican songwriter and poet Bob Marley once wrote: 'Every man got a right to decide his own destiny.' This quote is on a plaque in the boss's office. He has not only fulfilled his destiny, but has shaped countless others,” Campbell added.
Maragh's wife, Charmaine, noted that many of her husband's achievements have already been shared since his passing and as such she wanted to direct mourners back to the word of God.
She read Psalms 27, stating that she had used it to encourage her husband and noted that the words had helped him to endure.
“There is power in prayer,” she said. “That's my testimony.”
Daughter Racquel read a tribute from Maragh's brother who, because of the ban on travel from England, could not make it to the funeral. He spoke of his brother's love for sports and music and recalled how his son — who also loves music — remembers that, during a visit to Jamaica in 2000, “Harry arranged a private tour of Bob Marley's recording studio” for him.
Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) President William Brown said Maragh was more than a colleague. “He was my mentor, my friend, he was my brother. He was the trailblazer of the path I now walk.”
He also described Maragh as a far-sighted, visionary giant of the shipping industry, as well as a great Jamaican and dear friend to many people and who was highly respected by his colleagues in Jamaica, the Caribbean and in the business community around the world.
“His overriding concern was always creating a viable and efficient industry that would stand as a powerhouse and beacon with extended benefits to this country,” Brown said, adding that it was during's Maragh's tenure as SAJ president that a strong push was made towards certifying the port of Kingston under the international shipping and port facility security code.
“He was a wealth of knowledge, a resource, counsel to many presidents before me and we have all benefited from his vision and guidance,” Brown said.
“Harry was soft-spoken, but his words were never lacking in power because they were always combined with wisdom and reason.”
Maragh's son, Ryan, in a tear-filled tribute, said his father was probably the best father anyone could ever have.
“His advice was golden, and the older I got it seemed to be even more precious. Even though we struggled on certain issues, his love for me never failed and [for that] I'm truly grateful.
“He loved his country and believed in Jamaica when I thought otherwise and sought opportunities in the US,” he said, adding that he will miss the conversations they had on world events, politics, and music.
Before the service, pre-recorded video tributes were delivered by Professor Gordon Shirley, president of the Port Authority of Jamaica; Trevor Riley, CEO, Shipping Association of Jamaica; David Miller, president, Calabar Old Boys' Association; Solomon Sharpe, CEO Main Event; Ed Bartlett, minister of tourism; Jeffrey Hall, chairman, Kingston Wharves Ltd; Grantley Stephenson, deputy chairman, Kingston Wharves Ltd; Roland Malins-Smith, former president, Seafreight lines; Opposition Senator Janice Allen; David Ross, CEO of CFL Group USA; Captain Andre Smith, Jamaica Marine Pilots Association; Chris Maragh, nephew; and Juan Carlos Croston, president, Caribbean Shipping Association.