Yours was an excellent innings, David RoperSunday, May 02, 2021
BY VERNON DAVIDSON
In the first two years of the Jamaica Observer I never had much interaction with David Roper. Our encounters were mostly influenced by my job as a journalist covering events at Sandals and in the tourism industry in general.
However, in 1996 Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, who was in charge of public relations at Sandals Resorts International (SRI) — the resort group's head office in Montego Bay — approached me with an offer to fill her position as she had wished to take a sabbatical for an editorial internship at a magazine in New York.
Her request for the leave, she had said, was approved by then Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart on condition that she finds someone to fill in. So Sarah, knowing that I had worked in public relations at the Jamaica Tourist Board before joining the Observer, reached out to me. I, in turn, got approval for the three-month secondment from Dr George Phillip who, at the time, was managing director at the Observer.
On my arrival at the SRI office on Kent Avenue, Sarah introduced me to the team and David Roper, the director, industry relations.
The first thing I noticed about him was the absence of clutter on his desk. It struck me because most journalists' desks are the complete opposite. But if anyone, on seeing his desk, had thought that David was not given to hard work, they would quickly divest themselves of that view by merely observing him on the job.
David Roper was not only industrious, he was meticulous to a fault. No project for which he was responsible was left half-done, and he would always have up his sleeve answers to any challenges that were likely to affect those projects.
In addition to encouraging me to visit the hotels in the group in order to know them and the staff, I remember him assigning me to represent Sandals at a number of the cricket matches in a domestic league sponsored by the company at the time. His instructions were always clear and he would normally share some anecdotes about the competition and some of the colourful characters that I would likely encounter at the games across the island. I did meet a few of those individuals at Sabina Park and Seprod Oval, and on my return to the office we would share a laugh about my experience.
His calm demeanour was a great plus to the company, so was his display of kindness and patience, especially with members of the team who were learning on the job. The fact that he had been with Sandals for many years meant that he was able to share wonderful stories about the resort group which undoubtedly inspired many of us.
It was also obvious to me that David was well-loved by the Sandals team members as he would be greeted with rousing and sustained applause whenever he was introduced to speak at any of their functions, especially the staff awards which impressed me greatly as the prizes for excellence on the job were absolutely fantastic.
Outside of his love for cricket and sport in general, I found him to be an avid reader who would offer rational views on just about any issue in the news. But there was no doubting his love for cricket, as I learnt that while he was in hospital he ensured that Sandals' obligations as sponsor of the West Indies team were fully met for their tour of England last year.
But people who knew David Roper would have expected no less of him. The man was dedicated and always sought to display the best of Jamaica, the Caribbean, and his beloved Sandals.
I take comfort in my firm belief that he is now enjoying fadeless light and immortal life after an excellent innings which will be difficult, extremely difficult, to match.
I extend my deepest condolence to his family and his colleagues in the Sandals group.
Farewell my former boss and friend.
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