FLORIDA, United States – Phillip "Phil" Fender, the Jamaican-born husband of newly minted Florida Supreme Court Justice Renatha Francis, who is also Jamaican, died on November 29, 2022, plunging the legal fraternity here into mourning.
"That his untimely passing took place over the Thanksgiving weekend, when most persons in America are in a celebratory mood expressing gratitude for their blessings, made it all the more tragic," said Alison Smith, president of the Broward County Bar Association (BCBA).
Fender, head of Transformation Media Group and a marketing guru, had only recently, in August of this year, celebrated his wife's ascension to the Supreme Court bench, which was a historic occasion, as she is one of only two black women to achieve that honour, and the only Jamaican — male or female — to do so.
Justice Francis has received an outpouring of support from members of the Jamaican Diaspora, with Consul General Oliver Mair in Miami expressing deep sorrow upon learning of Fender's passing, and noting that Fender was a personal friend whom he considered a brother, and whom he would miss dearly.
Mair noted: "Phil was also a dear friend of our community and was loved and appreciated for his warm and engaging personality which made everyone feel extra special.
"I was particularly impressed by how supportive he had been to his dear wife during her historic rise, becoming the first Jamaican and woman of colour to be a Supreme Court judge in Florida," Mair said in expressing condolence to Justice Francis and family.
Smith, herself a trail-blazing Jamaican-American attorney who this year was elected president of the almost 100-year-old BCBA, sent condolence to the family and fraternity via the Bar's website and newsletter, conveying sorrow at Justice Francis's loss.
"We know that you are surrounded by love from those in your immediate circle of family and pray you remain strong. Our support, thoughts, and deepest sympathies are with you as you endure these trying times," said Smith.
Fender also leaves behind two young children. His celebration of life ceremony is set to take place on December 10, 2022 at 10:00 am at the Faith Center in Sunrise, Florida.