By Horace Mills, Journalist
Louise Mongol-Gunter’s influence in life cut across socioeconomic groups; a fact reflected in the makeup of the crowd that gathered on Saturday, August 17, to send off the businesswoman who operated a wholesale at 6 Fletcher’s Avenue in Linstead, St Catherine.
The funeral service for the 87-year-old, affectionately called Miss Lou, took place at St Helen’s Roman Catholic Church – near Linstead Public Hospital.
One of her daughters, Dr Paula Gunter, described her as charitable, nationalistic, family-orientated, meticulous, and passionate about education as well as the upliftment of her customers.
Dr Gunter told the gathering that her mom did not only offer a one-week or two-week line of credit to her customers – especially women with children.
“She would go on and mentor these women on how to build their businesses, keep good records and manage their money. She explained to the women that she wanted them to succeed and have more women in business and, as a by-product, if they did well, she would also do better. Her choice of having more women on the credit list was because most had children and they wanted their children to have a good education,” Dr Gunter added.
She stated that her mother, who missed her initial dream of becoming a nurse, eventually made her name through business.
While mentioning Dr Martin Luther King’s speech titled ‘What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?’, Dr Gunter said of her mom: “You kept that shop like Michelangelo painted pictures; you kept that shop like Beethoven composed music; you kept that shop like Shakespeare wrote poetry. You kept shop so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth would pause and say: Here lived a great shopkeeper who did her job well.”
Dr Gunter further declared: “You [Mongol-Gunter] lived life to the fullest even in the most turbulent of times in your life. The death of your son three days after his birth, the upheaval of the ’70s, the tragic shooting death of my father in the ’80s, the financial instability of the ’90s, the recession in 2000 – yet you were a true nationalist, always standing by your beloved country.”
Meanwhile, the business-place that Mongol-Gunter operated for decades at 6 Fletcher’s Avenue remained shuttered during the funeral.
Its entrance, however, was occupied by vendors, who were quick to tell The Beacon about their experience with the late businesswoman.
They said Mongol-Gunter often allowed them to ‘hustle’ in the vicinity of her business, unlike many other entrepreneurs who would call the police to have them removed.
“Miss Mongol was a good woman and anybody seh Miss Mongol nuh good, a lie dem a tell,” said Paulette, a long-serving vendor.
Mongol-Gunter, in the meantime, was the daughter of a first-generation Jamaican woman of Indian descent who lived in Linstead, and of an Indian man who worked in St Mary after being brought to the island as part of the British Colony Indian Indenture System.
Her parents met in Linstead and eventually purchased a piece of property at 6 Fletcher’s Avenue, where they started a business.
Mongol-Gunter, who was the fifth of six children for her parents, attended Linstead Government School and Cathedral High School.
When she graduated from Cathedral High after five years, she did not have the entry qualifications to become a nurse.
Mongol-Gunter subsequently completed a book-keeping course at Jamaica School of Commerce.
Her plans to later work and attend nursing school were aborted after she joined her mother in working at the shop in about 1951.
The rest was history. Mongol-Gunter remained in business until she retired in 2012.
Her daughter, Dr Gunter, in reflecting on the post-retirement period, disclosed: “After retirement, you [Mongol-Gunter] were still going strong until you had a bad fall. Your health went downhill from there until you slipped away in the afternoon on July 31st, 2019. In our grief, let us smile knowing that you are with your beloved brothers and sisters, and standing next to my father again.”
Mongol-Gunter was interred at Heathfield Cemetery beside her husband Paul Gunter who was killed during a shooting incident 32 years ago – in 1987.
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