I came to know Jimmy personally in 1994, when I became a freemason in the same lodge he was a founder of. From the start, Jimmy, a senior brother to me, was always very supportive of us younger masons. This support and encouragement of the younger persons demonstrates the qualities of his leadership.
Our bond was deepened as a result not only of our shared love of country, and our public commentary, but the fact also that we both had the privilege of attending Jamaica College.
I later also realised that we took similar paths to JC, as I, like him, went to Priory.
At the time I heard about Jimmy’s passing, I was thinking of writing an article on the need for us as individuals to look in the mirror, when we speak about personal and national development, as it is only through human development, and our own accepting of our responsibilities that we will see true development.
The usual tendency to blame government and see the problem with others, before seeing that the “wood in our eyes is greater than the splinter in the eyes of others “, is what is holding us back.
This is the attitude that Jimmy always spoke to me about. He always thought that the solution to our challenges rests within us, and he always thought that the best way was to help others to succeed, as the only way we can truly realise a good life is when others around us have a good life also.
We spoke very often on national issues, and he would always call me to give advice and seek advice. Whenever he didn’t agree with something I wrote, or spoke about, he would call me and suggest an alternative view. He also would call me and commend me on what he thought were good suggestions.
No matter what he called about, you always understood that Jimmy would call from a position of love and care.
I recall two interactions with Jimmy, as a Mason, which left a lasting mark on me.
The first was when I saw a less than desirable action of another Mason, and I said to Jimmy that I was disappointed as my understanding was that masonry had as its hallmark that we were to be unselfish, of high morals and kind to our fellow man. He said to me that, like every organisation built on integrity, freemasonry makes good men better but cannot make a man with ill intent change his ways, just like the Church.
The second time, when I was going to the chair of our lodge, I went to him for advice. He said to me that he didn’t have much to say, as he believed that I had what is needed to lead the lodge, only to say that whenever we go to lead any organisation remember that we can only add one block in our one year, and if each leader adds one block we will eventually complete the building we desire. He said pick which block you will add and do it well. This was also his approach to nation building.
Jimmy was also a private sector stalwart, having been at the forefront of the formation of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and I recall the vibrant days of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, when Jimmy was president.
He continued his commentary way after his private sector involvement, and retirement, and our private conversations continued unabated. At the time I was a lot more active in my writings and public commentary and he would call to give his advice, as a more experienced person.
Jimmy was also a major shareholder in GraceKennedy, probably the most successful Jamaican conglomerate. So he had no need to do what he did publicly, but did so for love of country.
One day our time on this earth will end, and we will be defined not by how many things we have acquired, but rather by how much we have contributed to the development of our country and others around us. This is what will cause our memory to live on.
In this regard Jimmy was a team player, as seen in his sporting exploits at JC and beyond.
He was to me a true brother, friend and leader, and imparted great wisdom on me, which has helped to define the person I am today.
Jimmy, I will miss your calls and advice. Sometimes your call was just to check on how I was doing and that was enough.
Walk good, my brother and friend.
- Dennis Chung is a chartered accountant and chief executive officer at Supreme Ventures Services Limited