Delroy England: “Sir Howard was a nice person to work with, he was very helpful towards the staff. Even during the hurricane season, he would sit with us and we did not mind staying over with him to make sure everything was ok. Sad that he has passed on, but he is a blessed man.”
Hezekiah Brown: “I work with him for most of the 14 years here at King’s House and he ensured that we became Government workers after our contract ended with the King’s House Foundation. Sometimes, as early as the morning is, Sir Howard would come over to the farm and check on his goats and so on. He wasn’t the man for you to be afraid of. He was a genuine man. When I heard the news, I had to stop for a while and think about it. His memory will live on forever.”
Jermaine Brown: “Sir Howard always had time for everyone. Anytime you want to talk to him, he is right there to listen. He was always concerned about the staff, always asking if we eat, etc. And if we said no, ‘in the space of no time’ you would see the butler bringing us sandwiches and juice. And if we decided to cook on the compound, Sir Howard would send to tell us ‘Men, make sure you leave mine’. As soon as he was finished working, he would come and sit down and eat with us. When he is with us he would always say “God is good” and of course all of us would help him to complete it. Sir Howard even played football with us. Will really miss him man!
Nora Tomlinson: “Working with Sir Howard was very good. He was always asking “is everything alright?” The first thing he would greet you with is “God is good”. He was very encouraging and very fair. I remember once when I just started this job, I was filling in for someone at the time. He came into the office and asked his secretary who has been cleaning the office. When she told him it was me he said: “Please ensure that she cleans the office as of now.” He and Sir Patrick share some similar things you know. They are strict but they do it only because they want to see the best of you. I enjoyed working with him and I will miss him.”
Jeffery Johnson: “Sir Howard always came to look for me at the garage. He told me that he liked how I washed the car. He used to love to see me dance. Sir Howard was very encouraging.”
Carlington Taylor: “He was a very good man. He used to come and talk with us while we were looking after the animals. Sir Howard had different animals: cows, rabbits, pigeons, fresh-water fish, day old chickens and buffaloes. The buffaloes were from Cuba and were at Hope Zoo, but we used to have to cut the grass and carry for them to eat.”
Aston Morrison: “Sir Howard was a nice man, was like a father to us and treated us good. When we the workers cooked, he would eat with us. Any problem I had I could go to him with it. He was really a compassionate man and he helped me when my father died.”
Melanie Smith: “Sir Howard was a kind and giving man. He cared for all of us and our children. He liked my young son and always asked about him, calling him his grandson. Sometimes he would take him and together they would go walking in the gardens. I remember assisting with his clothes once when someone was on vacation and Sir Howard said he was grateful for my assistance and that he liked how I pressed his shirt.”
Charmaine Campbell: “It was a great experience working with “Teacher” – and that he was! Whenever he was explaining corrections on a document that had been typed, he would explain the reason for the correction, so we were always learning. Sir Howard was like a father to all of us and to our children. He always wanted to see them and to talk with them. He was so caring…a real people-person! I remember that he was always present at our staff socials and interacted well with staff. He loved to play dominos and always welcomed a cup of mannish water. Sir Howard always stressed that it was one King’s House and that we were all working towards one goal.
Beverly Bell-Clarke: Sir Howard was a mentor, an educator, a teacher and a spiritual father who was never too busy to give counsel and pray with and for you. He would say “nothing beats prayer my child”. He could detect when you were having a bad day and would offer words of encouragement. Sir Howard, “Papa” as he was affectionately called by Lady Cooke, will always be remembered for his love for life and people regardless of their social standing or background.
O’Neil Codner: Working for Sir Howard was like a dream come true. I accompanied him to all functions – I went everywhere in Jamaica with him. He was a very quiet man and a warm and caring person. It was easy to talk to him and he always gave advice freely. He was very encouraging to people , telling us to go after our goals. He loved the special juices I made for him, especially the papaya and soursop juice which he was proud to offer to his guests during Courtesy Calls, and he always told them that it was “made by O’Neil”. It was his way of telling people about the farm, the crops that grow there, and that he used the produce. Sir Howard loved jerk pork. I remember once he was given a whole jerk pig from Boston and he willingly shared it with the household staff. He loved all is animal. During our walks on the grounds he always talked about the goats, cows and chickens. He was very concerned when his animals were not well! In his speeches there was always a joke. Sir Howard just loved to make people laugh! I have so many memories of Sir Howard, including how he used to participate in staff socials. One in particular stands out: we were playing cricket …I bowled to Sir Howard and he batted the ball for a mighty 4. I often wonder what would have happened if he were younger!
Lorna Clarke Nairne: Although death is a certainty, the recent passing of Sir Howard came as a shock to me. Just recently, I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers and I indicated how lovely it would be if Sir Howard could attain his 100th birthday. I am very sad that he has departed at this time.
I have some very fond memories of Sir Howard, two of which included the extraordinary love that he had for his staff, irrespective of their position and his willingness to give sound advice, whenever there was a need to do so.
In my early years at King’s House, Sir Howard would not miss an opportunity to encourage me to continue to excel in carrying out my responsibilities. In his words: “Mrs. Nairne, you are going to do very well in your career, but remember you can’t tek one finga show God.” I believe he was jokingly implying that I should have another child.
I was very humbled when the late former Governor-General accorded me the privilege of attending my wedding and granted permission for me to use the beautiful gardens of King’s House to take my wedding photographs. The Most Honourable Sir Howard Cooke epitomises humility in the true sense of the word. He will be tremendously missed. May his soul rest in peace.