Smith bemoans death of former political opponent Ford

The man who kept Dr Jephthah Ford out of the political winners’ enclosure in three general elections, Derrick Smith, last night paid tribute to his former opponent following his death yesterday.

A well-known medical doctor, Ford, who represented the People’s National Party (PNP) three times in the St Andrew North Western seat, transitioned yesterday morning, his family confirmed. The cause of death was not stated.

In a short, but glowing tribute, Smith, a retired Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Member of Parliament, set aside the sometimes contentious battles that the two had to reveal that when he had completed one of many surgeries on his feet, it was Dr Ford who turned up at his house one day to give him a wheelchair, which he said helped with his mobility

Smith, now an advisor to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, said it saddened him to learn of Dr Ford’s passing, while underlining that the medical practitioner had good qualities.

“Jephthah and myself came a long way. We had three epic political contests that allowed us to know each other very well. Subsequent to his third defeat in 1997, we became good friends,” Smith said.“Even after he gave me that wheelchair, more recently, he sent greetings by way of my son, Duane, to me. I am saddened that he has passed and I express condolence to his twin brother Japheth and the rest of his family,” said Smith, who suffered a double blow in recent time, following the death of the only man who has trained his race horses at Caymanas Park, Wayne DaCosta, last week. Smith is a veteran race horse owner.

Dr Ford’s family said that he died at home with members around him.

He contested the elections of 1989, 1993, and 1997, and made no further attempt at gaining the majority of votes in any other seat, but focused more on his medical practice, assisted with human rights causes, while still lending limited political support to the PNP whenever he could.

Smith’s words of sympathy followed those earlier in the day issued by PNP President Mark Golding, and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange, with whom he had a close friendship, although they were on different political teams.

“Dr Ford was a champion for social justice, who represented the People’s National Party in NW St Andrew over three election cycles. He was also a community physician par excellence. His calling went beyond a distinguished medical field, and he achieved an uncommon convergence of professionalism, advocacy and public service,” Golding said in a statement.

“Dr Ford was known all across Jamaica, and particularly in the Corporate Area, for his courage and indefatigable commitment to providing medical services to all. He was also courageous in speaking out on matters which affected the rights of the people, even when they were sensitive, unpopular and controversial.

“Dr Ford’s career reflected the principles of Michael Manley. He was kind and accessible, always loyal to the marginalised and the disenfranchised, and he spoke for the people in the communities he served. Jamaica has lost a committed medical professional and a special servant of the people,” the statement issued by Golding said.

Grange added: “We have lost a Jamaican who truly cared about our people and their well-being”.

Up to recently, Dr Ford had been involved in the case of Jodian Fearon, a mother in her twenties, who died soon after she had given birth at Spanish Town Hospital in April 2020, at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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