December 2, 2020

Vincent Rerrie laid to rest

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Rerrie 2 The Cayman Islands said farewell to one of its dearly beloved Jamaican residents, Vincent Stratton Rerrie last Saturday (2) at the church he loved, St George’s Anglican Episcopal Church, on Courts Road, George Town, Grand Cayman.

The church was packed with family and friends who loved this dear man who always had a beaming smile for both friends and strangers

He was hoping to make it to 100 years and only just missed that milestone – he was 97 ½ when he passed away on February 18th.

The service was conducted by Rev. Mary Graham and assisted by Rev Harris Spence. The former Rector of St. George’s Church, Archdeacon Peter Hollis Lynch, who flew in from Jamaica especially for the funeral, did the Homily.

The Life of Vincent Stratton Rerrie.

Rerrie 3webVincent Stratton Rerrie was born to Major Phillip Aston Rerrie, and Rachael Vernon, both of Montego Bay, Jamaica, on September 12th, 1915.

He was the first child of his parents, and had five siblings, all of whom have preceded him in death.

Vincent spent his early years growing up in Montego Bay, and after leaving school at the age of 14; he began an al most life-long working relationship with the Hanna Group of Companies, which lasted for more than 49 years.

He first joined R. Hanna and Sons in Montego Bay. In those days, the Hanna Group of companies was one of, if not the largest private enterprise in Jamaica, with various branches, businesses and factories all around the island, employing literally hundreds of persons throughout the group.  Vincent’s work ethic and integrity were soon recognised by his employers, and he was transferred to the capital Kingston, where he rose steadily through the ranks, eventually becoming Purchasing Manager and Operations Manager for several of the companies in the group, while working directly under the mentorship of then owner, Mr. Edward Hanna.

Such was the level of trust and ability that he impressed upon his employer, that he was tasked with travelling the world on innumerable Business and Purchasing trips that saw him to such far-away places as Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Budapest and many other Asian, European and North American countries. One must remember that this was at a time when travel was a luxury, and journeys of this nature were tedious undertakings, which quite often took several days by air, and not just a few hours.

His success was a testament to his step-mother Edith, whose determination that Vincent received as equal a foundation as any of his siblings, would see her to spend many hours each evening ensuring that his lessons were well learned, and that his penmanship was flawless. This was an attribute, which those close to him have always admired.

After Vincent moved to Kingston, it was there that he met his wife of 58 years, Elaine Marrette. Their union would produce two daughters, Beverly Silvera and Thalia Foster, and in turn several grand and great-grandchildren.  The longevity of their marriage is a true testament to the strength of GOD as the third member in any union.

It was also during this time that Vincent began a tireless regime of literally building his way to financial independence. Being from relatively humble beginnings, he was determined to see out the twilight of his years in the comfort of his own home, without the “axe” of a mortgage hanging over his head.

He began this journey with his first house on Lancaster Road in St Andrew, a humble abode that was built in just 8 weeks. Over the course of the next 4 years, he followed this with two more houses in quick succession on neighbouring Sandringham Ave. After this was the first of two houses on Morningside Drive, where at last Vincent was able to establish a more permanent home for his family.

Also during the course of this time, he purchased an additional house on Lily Way, to which he made additions, and eventually he at last built his permanent home, once more on Morningside Drive, where he resided until 2004.

Such was his strength of character and ambition, that he made many life-long friends among his clients, some of whom paid him great homage through their genuine interest in his ambitions. Most notably were persons such as his employer, Mr. Edward Hanna, Mr. Hugh Levy Snr and Clarence S. Reid, without whose friendship and guidance those ambitions would have been so much harder to achieve.

During these pre-Cayman years Vincent would work tirelessly, simultaneously working several jobs, which he would  ‘juggle’ around his job with the Hanna Group. In those early years he would also work as a night manager at the Rialto Theatre, sell Life Insurance and Real Estate, do construction and home repairs for clients, and yet somehow he still found the time to build houses of his own.

He lived his life by the following quote from esteemed poet, H.W. Longfellow, often repeating it to us with gentle but firm resolve:

“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”

Vincent’s tireless work ethic allowed him to achieve those ambitions, as well as bear the many additional burdens that he took upon his shoulders over the years. His family was the centre of his world, and providing for them was his ever-present driving force.

But a life without GOD is not a balanced one, and Vincent was never one to forget his faith. He made every effort to attend Church on a Sunday, even though his busy schedule was an easy excuse for him not to. He was a prominent member of the Saint Andrew Parish Church in Jamaica, well known, liked, and loved by his fellow parishioners, but such was the man that was Vincent. Many among us now can attest to this, not because they may have known him from those days gone by, but because they have witnessed it as members of this very church, which he attended throughout his many years of living here in Grand Cayman.

As he moved onward and upward through life, his only expressed regret was that he had not had the opportunity of furthering his education, a sentiment that he would repeat in his twilight years, feeling deeply that had he had been afforded it, he would have been able to achieve much more for his family. To this, we would gently remind him that it was his tireless sacrifice that was his greatest gift to us all.

After retiring from the Hanna Group, through the urging of his Son-in-law Steve Foster, he relocated to Grand Cayman in 1981to take up a new position with the Foster Group of Companies as the Manager of Industrial Park Motors, a challenge that he enjoyed. This is how and where he became integrated into the Cayman community, respected and liked by those who came to know him. His distinctive white hair, and ever-sunny disposition, made him instantly recognisable to most persons, and endeared him into their hearts. Often he would express his anticipation of the days when he could sit by the door of the gas station in his rocking chair, greeting the customers as they came about their business.

However this was not to be, as the deteriorating health of his wife Elaine

Jamaica, where she lived out her final years, preceding him in December of 1998 after many years of confinement due to her battle with Osteoarthritis. The story of the dedication and love that they shared during this period is not often told, and therefore not well known by many.

Because of Elaine’s terribly debilitating illness, Vincent would literally have to care for her every need, as Elaine trusted almost no one else to assist her with the extremely painful effort that it took for her to move. For the better part of 11years he waited on her, hand and foot, a remarkable testament to Love, Dedication and Commitment to their Vows.

Vincent made a great many friends and family by extension.  He had a kind heart, giving of his time and what he could to others around him who was in need of assistance. Be it to his neighbours, family or strangers, he did whatever it was in his power to do. He never looked to man for his reward or gratitude, rather he knew that his reward was to come from a higher power, as people do not always appreciate the good others do for them.

It wasn’t until several years after Elaine’s passing that, upon the constant urging of his family, he eventually heeded our calls to return to Grand Cayman to live out his twilight years in the company of those who held him dearest to their hearts.  By this time all of his immediate family lived here with the exception of Beverly, who is in Canada.

Vincent returned to Grand Cayman in late 2004, not long after Hurricane Ivan had ravaged the island. His daughter Thalia and her husband Steve opened their home to him, and he was to live out the remainder of his days with them in the love and comfort of the home that they provided for him. He was always close to his son-in-law, Steve, but it was after his return here that they became almost inseparable, as we would say in Jamaica, they became like”(clear throat) and bench”.

Vincent thoroughly enjoyed his days with Steve, looking forward to their many trips to Cayman Brac, where the peace and tranquility of Steve’s cottage, ‘Booby-bird Haven’ brought him much delight. Not that it was all about relaxation, no, for it was then that we discovered another part of Vincent that wasn’t known to many. He was a dancer, and would indeed even perform a little Karaoke on occasion. This was no doubt under the direct encouragement of his friends Johnny Walker, and ever-present wingman, Steve.

There are a great many remarkable things about Vincent’s life, but there are two major attributes that stand out above all others.

Firstly was his unquestionable love of food, and the fact that his eating habits went totally against everything that modern medicine, doctors and health practitioners tell us is the key to good health and longevity.

The other was his amazing state of health, for which Vincent was extremely blessed, being mentally, physically and spiritually healthy right until the very end.

So amazing in fact, that Vincent left this world with the very teeth that were gifted him by his Heavenly Father. Teeth that made a stalk of sugar cane tremble with fear. Most people ate the soft part, but not Vincent. He ate the tough part that we call the knot.

The Bible tells us that we should honour our father and mother, that our days may be long upon this earth, but one can easily argue that a long life, without good health, can be a curse in and of itself.

At 97 1/2 years of age, Vincent rose in the mornings, made his own bed, and often prepared his own meals when he wished, especially his now infamous “mystery soup”, into which he put just about anything he found in the fridge. Be it the leftover salad, avocado, roast beef, or Chinese food, it didn’t matter. As he would say, “it will all end up in the same place anyway”, and he would laugh and dig in.

He swept the walkway daily, and though a little weak in the knees, he would still go for short walks around the block on a regular basis.

He loved and looked forward to spending time with his great grandchildren, especially Cole whom he enjoyed baby-sitting after school most days.

Vincent passed away as a result of an aneurism of the aorta. Even in this, his final stand, he was to once again to prove his great tenacity by confounding the Doctors as to how a man of his age had even managed to survive such an event almost twice the magnitude of what a person could have. A true testament to JEHOVAH’s blessing of strength and health.

Alas though, it was not GOD’s will that Vincent should remain with us to celebrate his century upon this earth, but to those who knew him, we know that not only was he blessed, but we too were blessed in turn, by having had him as an integral part of our lives for such a long time.

Vincent Stratton Rerrie LIVED his life. He did not simply exist.

He made it a point to always be a contributing member of his family and household.

His work ethic followed him throughout his life; right up until the very moment our FATHER called him home…. mystery soup beside him, spoon in hand.Scan 1web1

 

 

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