Sedley Gibson remembered as a man of principle
As he stared at the white slab decorated with a wreath of flowers, Earl Downer wiped freshly mixed cement that was dripping off the sides of the grave belonging to his lifelong friend Sedley Ridley Gibson.
The 68-year-old shared that the gesture was nothing, as he was on the receiving end of many acts of kindness from Gibson, a distinguished son of the Rock Hall community in Portland.
"This man right here is the example of what a good person is like. Ask anybody, not just in Rock Hall, but di whole a Portland, and dem will tell yuh bout him," said Downer, of his friend and mentor who passed away on December 11. He was 84.
Downer, who helped to build his friend's grave, said he fondly remembered the time when Gibson intervened in his life to give him a start in the farming business.
"Him see and say 'Come yah, mi a go put those idle hands to good use'. Me a young, green boy dem time deh and him tek mi one mawnin early and bring me a farm and gimme di machete and couple seeds and say 'Plant it boy'. A from deh so 'Gibbo' never show mi wrong yet. Him make a difference inna everybody life inna community," he said.
The community stalwart was laid to rest on Saturday at the family plot in Industry district, as hundreds turned out to pay their final respects. During a thanksgiving service at the Buff Bay United Church, Gibson was repeatedly hailed as a principled man who had placed God at the centre of his actions.
He served as chairman of the Rock Hall Primary School board and was vice-chairperson of the Mount Gracious United Church, where he was also an elder. Another of Gibson's long-time peers Walford 'Beacha' Brown found some comfort even though he watched his friend being lowered into the grave.
"Him bat a very good innings mi fren, believe me on that. More than 70 years mi know him fah and mi can tell yuh say Gibbo was a brilliant man. Love him pickney dem, love him cricket and very principled," Brown recalled.
In delivering her remembrance, Justice of Peace and Principal of Rock Hall Primary School, Ponceta Flemmings, said that Gibson was "kind, honest and straightforward".
"He was never absent or late for any school function," she further emphasised.
Her sentiments were echoed by Burchell Gibson, one of the late farmer's six children. He said that his father was "big on education", which he and his other siblings have adapted so well to.
"He was very committed as a father, husband and servant of God and his community. Dad, sleep well. We will forever love you and will surely miss you," said Burchell, who is also the deputy general manager of the Gleaner Company Media Limited, and manager of the Print, Plant and Circulation Department.
Gibson is also survived by widow Dorett, three sisters, 20 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, plus other relatives.