More than 300 persons from the Jamaican community in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as members of the academic community, turned out to pay tribute to the late Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor the Hon. Ralston ‘Rex’ Nettleford, OM, at a Thanksgiving Service, held on February 21, at the Hillside Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Atlanta.
In his tribute, Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Mr. Vin Martin, described him as “a national patriot, cultural ambassador, international scholar, dancer, teacher, orator, critic and mentor.”
“Jamaica, the Caribbean and Jamaicans the world over have lost a great son, whose work in education and culture will continue to live on,” he added.
Mr. Martin said that Professor Nettleford was arguably the Caribbean’s most eminent intellectual. He cited his humble beginnings in Trelawny, the time he dedicated to education and culture as well as his contribution to government and various organisations in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
He pointed out that the Caribbean community in Atlanta and indeed all whose lives were impacted by the profound work, vision and spirit of the beloved cultural icon and educator, would miss Professor Nettleford, but would continue to cherish his memories.
Others paying tribute were: Professor of Theology, Emory University, Dr. Noel Erskine; former District Attorney for Clayton County, Georgia, Mrs. Jewel Scott, former Senator and Rhodes Scholar, Dr. David Panton and Dr. Chris Parker.
The service was organised by Mr. Martin, in association with the Atlanta-Jamaica Association and the Rev. Winston Lawson, pastor of the Hillside Presbyterian Church.
Professor Nettleford died in Washington, D.C., in the United States on February 2, after suffering a heart attack. He was 76 years old.
He was accorded an official funeral by the government of Jamaica on February, 16, at the UWI Chapel, Mona campus.