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Tom Scarlett receives final guard of honour

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Hundreds of friends and relatives attended the funeral of Tomlin Scarlett at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church on Shortwood Road in Kingston.

Scarlett was well known in the local aviation industry and had also worked for airlines in the United States, Guyana, and as far as India.

Scarlett, born on October 21, 1946, died while in Florida on February 26, 2019. After a memorial service there, his funeral was held in Kingston on March 16.

A final guard of honour formed by past employees of the former national airline Air Jamaica lined the centre aisle of the church at the end of the service, as Scarlett’s body was carried out by pall-bearers, including his son Michael Scarlett, Harold Minto, grandson Nathanael Scarlett, Don Street, Hugh Thompson and Errol Jolly.

Tributes were paid by John Lynch of the Jamaica Tourist board (read by Sandra Scott), Hugh Thompson of the Kingston Cricket Club and by Leroy Lindsay.

The first reading (Wisdom 3: 1-6, 9) was given by friend Barbara Garcia, with the second reading (1 Thessalonians 4: 14-17) by Roth Dyer-Straw. His eulogy was read by Earl Patrick and is reprinted here.

“This morning we are all here to celebrate the wonderful life of a son, husband, father, brother, with relatives and friends of Tomlin Robert Scarlett.

I feel privileged and honoured to be invited by his family to do this eulogy for a very special friend and brother.

Good men must die, but death cannot kill thier name … from the Book of Proverbs.

I will begin this eulogy with a poem written by two rabbis, We remember them.

‘At the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them,

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them,

At the opening of the buds and the rebirth of spring, we remember them,

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them,

At the rustling of the leaves and the beauty of autumn, we remember them,

At the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them,

When we are weak and in need of strength, we remember them,

When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them,

When we have decisions that are difficult to make, we remember them,

When we have achievements that are based on theirs, we remember them,

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now part of us, as we remember them.’

 

Tomlin Robert Scarlett, Tommo, T, was born in Falmouth, Trelawny, to parents Babsy and Adell Scarlett, and raised in the parish of Westmoreland.

A western Jamaica man, Tom attended kindergarten and primary school in Frome, the sugar estate where his father worked.

Tom spent many happy days in that environment. Frome Estate was the epicentre of sugar, economic and social life in the parish, and he loved it and was part of it.

Those expereiences in those formative years helped to forge the man he became — love of people, gentlemanly behaviour, reverence and respect for the church, respect for all, the love of sport.

From Frome, Tom went on to Cornwall College his alma mater, and a place that was forever etched in his mind.

At Cornwall, Tom excelled academically and of course being the person he was he made many friends, some to this day, who, like himself, went on to make significant contributions to the development of the newly independent Jamaica in law, medicine, politics, engineering, business, etc.

Tom was very proud of that Cornwall College experience and he used to say to me, ‘Earl, that college left an indelible impression on me, one which made me today what I am.’

Tom was a gentle giant, courteous, always calm, had a welcome smile and always seemed in control.

Maybe his wife June, or the children may not entirely agree 100 per cent, but we are all human.

Tom’s window to the wider world began to open after Conwall College.

He was drawn to the travel industry where he worked in Montego Bay before migrating to the United States.

After a time, Tom met, courted and married June in New York, now going over 40 years.

June, the love of his life stood by him, and as a loving and caring wife gave him all the support up to the very end of his life.

Tom was blessed with three children — Michael, Natalie, Nadia (deceased some 12 years ago). His children blessed him with nine grandchildren, all of whom he adored and always spoke proudly of.

Death is more univeral than life. Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.

From the United States, Tom’s quest for further education took him to Canada to study aeronautics at Carlton University in Ottawa.

Tom always had a love for aviation, and as he told me on numerous occasions, wanted to become an airline pilot. Tom never made it to the cockpit, except for the occasional ride in the jump seat with his airline pilot friends on some of his business trips.

That dream of Tom’s was, however, manifested in his only son Michael who flew for the then Air Jamaica, rose to captain and went on to captain one of the world’s biggest passenger aeroplanes, with Qatar Airlines, one of the largest and most modern in the world.

Tom was very proud of Michael’s achievements, and for him it was bragging rights.

His daughter Nadia also did a stint as a flight attendant.

Tom’s entire working life was spent in the airline industry. During this illustrious career at the most senior level he worked for Air Jamaica, his greatest love after June and the children, Eastern, BWIA… now Caribbean Airlines, Caribbean Star based out of Antigua, Guyana Airways, and Continental/United where he hung up his wings.

In Tom’s private avocation he was a freemason, past president of SKAL Club International, Kingston Chapter, Forestry Commission, past director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, director of Airlines of Jamaica, board member of Aerotel, member of the Kingston Cricket Club — all served with significant honour.

Tom was a true 20th century man. He lived his life well. Tom travelled the world, saw and participated in some of the major things and events that changed the world we live in today. This was the century that now dictates our lives at the beginning of the 21st century.

From propellers to jet engines, supersonic flights, space travel, advance in medicine, personal computers, cable television, satellite broadcasting, the Internet, mobile telephones, online check-in, no food on airlines (unless you take it on) social media… just to name a few, Tom adapted well and embraced all changes.

Tom, as most of you in this church would know, was a socialite, or as my wife would say, a social bunny. He lived a clean and honest life and was generous to a fault with his love and time for people.

Those of us who knew him well knew that Tom liked to talk – any subject, Tom is there.

Tom invented social media before social media, although he knew very little about it in terms of usage: Twitter no, Instagram no, Facebook very little, WhatsApp yes, mobile phone very much so. That helped when we could not see each other face-to-face.

Tom was a regular visitor to our home. My family treated him as family and in fact a true uncle as much as we did the same. My friends were his and his mine.

I can remember the days when our family, along with the Crooks family, would spend most of the major holidays when we were in Jamaica on the north coast.

We did not have to worry about who would supervise the kids in the pool or pick them up at parties. Uncle Tom was always there, while we sat around the pool and had our favourite beverages until their safe return.

Tom loved music and liked to party. He knew people and was invited to most of the regular parties in Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Mandeville. We had to accompany him – he would have it no other way.

Music was his pastime, sadly he was not the best dancer. Never mind, T, now you are dancing with the stars.

Sport was another one of his passions. Surprisingly, Tom did not play any one identifiable sport that you could or can name. He was one of the world’s best spectators, and to him, an expert.

Tom would not miss a sporting event at the National Stadium or at Sabina Park as long as he was on the island, even if he had to go by himself.

I used to tease Tom that the only sport that he had ever medalled in was egg and spoon race which he participated in at his children’s prep school — and even that is debatable.

Mother Adell, June his wife, Michael, Natalie, his brother Donald, church, Jamaica, in fact all of us have lost a true patriot… a fallen soldier.

Tom was no foot soldier. He was a general.

As the famous US Army General Patten said, it is foolish and wrong to mourn who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

May his soul rest in peace.

I thank you.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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