Albertina Francis stood for minutes staring inside the glass-top casket bearing the corpse of the husband she lost on Valentine’s Day – Donovan Francis, affectionately called Danny.
The 66-year-old has been eulogized as humble, kind, reliable, God-fearing and loving to all he’d met.
During the thanksgiving service on Monday, April 4, at the Tower of Hope Deliverance Centre in Point Hill, St Catherine, his nephew Kerone Hall said: “He was a man of few words, but his actions were always well done. His action spoke volume whether it was at home, in the community or at church… Donovan would give the shirt off his back to ensure his children and wife were content. He loved to share with the world.”
Francis, who died at Spanish Town Hospital of an illness, was born 13 September 1955. He spent his early years with his maternal grandparents and uncle at Juan de-Bolas district, St Catherine. He attended Juan de-Bolas Primary School. He subsequently resided at Snake Hill, St Catherine. While there, he met the woman who went on to become his wife and mother of his five biological children.
He also helped to raise two step-children, including Andrew Brown who, in a heartfelt tribute during the thanksgiving service, noted his strong influence on his life since infancy.
“This man was all I know from childhood days…” Brown declared. “He always encourage me and want the best for me. If truth be told, him tek care of me more than how him tek care of his five [biological children]. He make me to be the person I am today… My regret is that he never knew where I am living [in my own house since December 2021], and I should have taken him there even to sleep one night.” Francis was also remembered as a strict disciplinarian.
His nephew, Hall, lauded him for his dedication to agriculture, which often formed the basis for his altruism. “He took pride in caring for his animals and he enjoyed planting and reaping a variety of ground provisions. But the most fulfilling and joyful thing about reaping his crops was to share with his loved-ones and those in his community. I am a living testimony of that.”
In addition to doing his personal farming, Francis, for more than 30 years, starting in the early 1980s, worked with the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica on a farm at Mountain Hill, located near Lluidas Vale in St Catherine. “My uncle’s leadership ability and no-nonsense personality quickly afforded him the position of supervisor, overseeing the Coffee Board workmen and women for more than 30 years,” the nephew said.
Another person who spoke glowingly of Francis during the thanksgiving service was his pastor, Reverend Larkland English, of the Ewarton Foursquare Church Of God in St Catherine. Francis was a deacon in that church. “Knowing Deacon Francis [for some 16 years], he was always a very faithful person… He was a very reliable person. Once he gives you his word he is prepared to stand by it, and based on that I come to respect him so much,” said the clergyman.
Tamica Willis, who heads the Tower of Hope Deliverance Centre where the thanksgiving service was held, stated that her late uncle had an unbreakable bond with her mother – his sibling.
“Uncle Danny today is resting well. We don’t cry because he died; we cry because we miss his love and his hospitality and all that he has always given to us. Today we are rejoicing that his soul found rest with the God of our salvation,” Willis told the gathering.
Francis, whose casket was shouldered by men through the sun-drenched street, was interred in the family plot at Point Hill amid weeping by some of his close relatives who predominantly were attired in blue and white.
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