Former cop laid to rest

August 14, 2019

Howell Burke, who served the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for more than 30 years, died two weeks short of his 108th birthday on July 14.

Last Saturday, he received a military-style homegoing service at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Rock River with an impressive crowd turning out to pay their last respects.

Burke, who is deemed as a stalwart in the Rock River community, was at one point president of the Cane Farmers Association, as well as a justice of the peace.

The ex-cop was a member of the force during the infamous Coral Gardens incident in St James in 1963.

At times, he would recount his horrific experience, and said that of the 32 years, six months and 29 days that he spent in the JCF, that day was forever etched in his memory.

Burke, who served in Kingston, Westmoreland, St James, and Clarendon, eventually found love in the latter, settling in Rock River.

Living in the community, he was very involved in its affairs, and last Saturday those residents turned out to pay their final respects.

Custos of Clarendon William Shagoury, Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon Pearnel Charles, and former Cabinet Minister AJ Nicholson were among those who joined an impressive turnout from the police force to remember Burke.

Shagoury, who was one of his Burke's most ardent supporters during final days, said he considered the former lawman to be a family member and friend.

"(He was) A man with whom I shared many insightful and pleasant discussions over the years," he said in his moving tribute. "The citizens of Rock River, the parish of Clarendon, and by extension Jamaica, will miss our beloved centenarian, but we give thanks for the many years that God afforded him the privilege of serving his community, his parish and his country, and for the life of a man we all are proud to have known."

Burke's body was cremated.

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