Amid tears and laudatory tributes, relatives and friends gathered to pay final respects to Vernon Theophilus Lowther, affectionately called Mass Vernon, during a thanksgiving service, which was held at Lluidas Vale Seventh Day Adventist Church in St Catherine on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Mass Vernon, 87, transitioned on February 11 at Linstead Public Hospital, ending a protracted period of illness.
Adassa Lowther-Scarlett, one of Mass Vernon’s five children, said her father was hardworking, firm, loving, humble, humorous, kind, and family orientated.
Providing proof, she took the congregation into her childhood, reflecting on her dad’s creativity in the kitchen, his love for talk shows, the scary ‘duppy’ stories he told, and the many goodies he brought back from work.
“We were poor of course, but Daddy didn’t make us feel that way because he would do all the things he could for us to be fed…” she said.
Lowther-Scarlett also recalled that, when she and her younger sister Winsome Lowther were attending high school, her father would walk three-and-a-half miles with them from their home in Pennington district to the bus stop in central Lluidas Vale. And he did not leave them on their home-bound treks in the evenings.
“We would talk and eat sugarcane [that we picked up along the roadway during the harvesting season] all the way home,” she said. “The journey down [to Lluidas Vale] in the mornings weren’t so exciting because it was dark. My sister and I would walk close and hug each other because we were afraid. And Daddy would be behind us shaking the bottle torch for us to get light.”
Mass Vernon loved his children, but not them only.
“You (Mass Vernon) were an uncle in a million ways,” his niece Charmaine Smith declared in a tribute.
She added: “Our uncle was humble, kind, loving, caring, and a good and heartened soul. I remember like yesterday how he never failed to visit us on every occasion he got… My brothers and I who you helped to nurture will really miss you and your honest fatherly advice.”
Other persons and organizations, which participated in the thanksgiving service, included Mass Vernon’s nephew Trevor Hooper, his former co-worker John Osborne, Troja Primary School where his daughter Lowther-Scarlett teaches, Pennington Seventh Day Adventist Church where he worshiped, and some of his grandchildren – Shawna Lowther, Don-Mario Butler and Thrifine Lowther.
Rosalee McLean, a Justice of the Peace and retired school principal, did a show-stopping eulogy.
She told the congregation: “As I knew him (Mass Vernon) over the years, he was a very humble man. He was full of integrity. I have never heard, in all my life in Pennington, he has ever quarreled or have a conflict or confrontation with anyone. He was hard-working and he had a very generous spirit and was kind. His love for his family was undeniable,” she told the congregation.
Mass Vernon was born 31 January 1935 to Josiah Lother and Ada Carty, who both died during his childhood.
“At the age of 10, Vernon was now an orphan – without a father and without a mother. Fortunately, he was not left alone as his dearest aunt, Leah, [who was a teacher], raised him along with her two children – Stanley and Iris. He was educated at Bartons All Age School in St Catherine where he was indeed an outstanding student. He was very disciplined and he produced the most beautiful penmanship,” McLean said.
After graduating from Bartons All Age, Mass Vernon, in search of economic independence, relocated from Bartons district to May Pen in Clarendon where he did odd jobs.
He later found permanent employment as a sugarcane cutter at Bernard Lodge Sugar Estate in St Catherine. However, his tenure there was cut short due to illness.
Mass Vernon again found refuge and restoration in his aunt, Leah.
She eventually relocated to Pennington district, and Mass Vernon followed suit. In Pennington, he found the love of his life, Carmen Bennett, whom he wedded on December 11, 1977.
“In September 1962, one month after Jamaica gained its independence from Britain, Mass Vernon, being a lonely young man – tall, dark, handsome and debonair – met a nice young woman from my community Pennington known as Carmen Bennett. Instantly, love bloomed and the relationship began,” McLean explained.
When the relationship began, Mass Vernon was working as a cane cutter at Caymanas Park Sugar Estate, situated in St Catherine.
His professional journey subsequently took him to Worthy Park Sugar Estate, which is located about four miles from Pennington district where he lived and started his family.
“He worked three consecutive shifts to take care of his wife and children. He worked at the general store [at Worthy Park Sugar Estate] and his work ethics saw him being promoted to a store manager – a position he held until his retirement in the year 2002,” McLean added.
Mass Vernon later started selling cigarettes and candy at Worthy Park Sugar Estate. And that business evolved into a tiny tuck shop.
He eventually closed his Worthy Park chapter and dived head-long into farming.
Mass Vernon also immersed himself in Christianity, worshiping at Pennington Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Sean Williams, the pastor who baptized Mass Vernon in 2019, expressed elation that Mass Vernon opted to make the best choice, which was to surrender his life to his maker.
“The reason this gives me comfort is because, when he did that, he chose to align himself with the Life Giver… He gives me the privilege of grieving his loss with the hope that I will see him again,” Pastor Williams told the gathering. “When he called for me to baptize him that day, it was the best decision he could have ever made.”
After the sermon, it was time for burial.
At the graveside inside Lluidas Vale Cemetery, the wife of the deceased didn’t miss the opportunity to, for the final time, openly declare her love.
“Vernon, yuh know seh mi love yuh though,” she said repeatedly, looking into the casket as her relatives tried to console her. “Vernon mi always love yuh. Yuh a good smaddy.”
Mass Vernon eventually was interred, leaving behind his wife Carmen, and three children – Adassa who is a veteran educator, Ezron who is a plumber in the United States, and Winsome who is a former Jamaica Defence Force soldier. He is also survived by 10 grand children, four great-grand children, brother Melbourne Jackson, sister Hersis Lowther, as well as other relatives and friends.
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