A pioneer, patriot, gentle giant and friend. That's how the nation's leaders, union representatives, and business stakeholders described the late founder of the Lasco Group of Companies, Lascelles Chin, in tributes that poured in Monday.
Chin, who was 85, died in the United States on Saturday night.
He was recognised for staging events and competitions that highlighted the work of teachers, nurses, as well as the police, and rewarded them for their service to Jamaica.
President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Patsy Edwards-Henry told the Jamaica Observer that Chin, who has been a member of the union since 1999, has been integrally active in competitions and award ceremonies over the years.
"He has made himself available to be a part of our planning and all our events for the nurse and nursing student of the year competitions, awards ceremonies and our nurse's week, not only physically. We refer to him as our grandfather, godfather, father, our friend, our nurse extraordinaire. It is a big loss for the NAJ," said Edwards-Henry.
Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, La Sonja Harrison said the union is grateful for Chin's public recognition of service, worth and work of the educators through the Lasco Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year awards.
"He has been a friend to the teachers of this nation in kind and in just great support to the work of the teachers, and it is indeed a saddening moment in terms of his passing and our prayers remain with his family, who is grieving at this time," she said.
In his remarks, Jamaica Police Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James said, "He was indeed a pioneer for [the] welfare and well-being of the police rank and file membership and, to a great extent, the general public service. His loss at this time we deem as a severe blow to the morale of the men and women whom he has always seek to aspire and inspire."
In the meantime, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen expressed shock and regret at Chin's passing, and described him as, "a visionary whose bold initiatives had a profound impact on the food distribution, financial and pharmaceutical services in Jamaica. His passion, determination to achieve success despite the odds, and his love for Jamaica led to many lasting contributions to national development. He was a tireless, committed champion of the private sector and wanted to make Jamaica a better place".
The Governor General's Programme for Excellence benefited from Chin's support and personal interest. He was also a director of the King's House Foundation.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister P J Patterson said Jamaica has lost another of its great entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
"He belonged to a family who instilled in him the craft of buying and selling as well as the intuitive passion for attracting customers, while quietly helping those in need. This gentle giant grew up in a rural village where there was poverty and realised the only way forward was through honesty and diligent application," he said.
Further, Patterson said his studies and social exposure at Wolmer's Boys' School inculcated in him a burning desire to do and be one who excelled in whatever he wanted.
In its tribute the People's National Party said, "His philanthropic efforts truly exemplified his benevolent nature and unwavering commitment to uplifting communities. He recognised the importance of education as a tool for empowerment and social progress; consequently, he established the Lasco Chin Foundation which has since played a vital role in supporting educational initiatives across the island. He understood the significance of health care and consistently contributed to its advancement."
Noting that Chin believed very strongly in the resilience of the human spirit, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) said it was not surprising that as he built his portfolio of enterprises he sought out opportunities to invest in his fellow Jamaicans.
"His initiatives for supporting at-risk youth to complete their education and to set up their own businesses, his annual recognition for outstanding teachers, nurses and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; and his support for a mentorship programme to encourage Jamaican achievers who were nurturing their own entrepreneurial dreams, were just a few of his efforts to elevate the everyday Jamaican and to pay forward his tremendous business success," the JCC said.
At the same time, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) added, "His relentless pursuit of excellence, coupled with his unwavering integrity and unparalleled patriotism, has set a shining example for all with whom he came in contact. Undoubtedly, his profound impact will be felt for generations to come as his legacy inspires aspiring entrepreneurs and industry professionals."
Among his many accolades, Chin was invested with the Order of Jamaica for his philanthropy and contribution to the development of commerce and business in 2001, and inducted into the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Hall of Fame in 2011.