Ambassador Johnson remembered as man who loved his family, country, school
Relatives and friends of Ambassador Anthony Johnson yesterday shared that, up to the time of his passing, he relentlessly embodied the motto of his alma mater, Kingston College — The brave may fall but never yield — in much the same way he developed an intense love for Jamaica.
“My family shared husband and father with Jamaica. Jamaica was a profound presence of our family, almost as if she was literally there. Family, country, school — order up for debate,” Johnson’s son Alexander said in his tribute.
“Nobody leaves behind an unblemished record — that is the rule. But I believe that he may have been the exception… fallen, but never having yielded,” he added of his father who was as a member of the Jamaica Labour Party for over 40 years, served as a minister of state in the 1980s in the ministries of industry and commerce, and agriculture during his time as Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Eastern from 1983 to 1993 and who, in 2016, was invested with the Order of Jamaica for distinguished national service in the public and private sectors and for his contribution to the Jamaican foreign service.
Johnson was also a senator until December 2007 when he was appointed as Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the Organization of American States.
The official service of thanksgiving for Ambassador Johnson, who passed on April 28, was held at St Augustine’s Chapel on Kingston College’s North Street campus.
Dr Patrick Dallas, former Kingston College Old Boys’ Association president, in his tribute, described Johnson as “a reliable authority on the history of Kingston College and a walking encyclopaedia of fortis anecdotes…
“He was a very ardent supporter and defender of everything fortis, and it is no mistake to say that the experience at Kingston College set him up to excel in the various areas of expertise for which he later became known and in some quarters revered,” said Dr Dallas as the KC old boys at the service stood in respect of their colleague.
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, the current minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, tried hard to hold back tears as she recounted that, as her father went through his illness, it was not an easy experience for the family.
“I wonder, over these few weeks, if I have been able to push through because of his belief that you must always keep going and get done what needs to be done, or whether it is that I have been breathing for so long,” she said.
Pointing out that her father was an author who believed books needed to be read and written by Jamaicans, the minister said, “They were his refuge during a challenging childhood, and they created his path for opportunities.”
Among the many books he wrote are Jamaican Leaders, Great Jamaicans: Scientists, Kingston: Portrait of a City, City of Kingston Souvenir, 1802-2006: Facing the Twenty-first Century, and The Brave May Fall But Never Yield: History of Kingston College 1925-2006.
Johnson’s youngest daughter, Olivia Wilmot, cried openly as she delivered her tribute.
“He was real… How do you say goodbye to a figure who always seemed larger than life?… My dad. There will never be a page, a book that could hold all there is to say and all you mean to me,” she said.
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