A Happy and Blessed New Year 2019 to all!! May this year be a good one, and may it bring
good things and success to everyone. Last December saw the passing of Miss Jane, as she is fondly known to all Belizeans. After one hundred and one years of a wonderful and service-filled life she left us quietly at her home at Mile 5 ½ Philip Goldson Highway on December 12, which also happens to be my brother Philip’s birthday and the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom we never fail to pray for protection against destructive storms and hurricanes. Thank goodness we were spared this past hurricane season.
Many have spoken about Miss Jane and have remembered her for the one-and-only great family and credit union leader she was. I recall visiting her in her then very small office at Hyde’s Lane in Belize City, even before the second floor of the tiny ferro-concrete structure which housed Holy Redeemer Credit Union was added. My own Mom worked for a while at HRCU when my younger brothers John and Paul were at Holy Redeemer School in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Miss Jane, Uncle Henry Usher, and their large family had moved to Price Bank not too long after the devastating Hurricane Hattie completely destroyed their Belize City home. They were true pioneers. In 1967 my own parents followed suit. We moved right next door to the Ushers when I was ten years old. My schoolmates used to tease me and tell me that I “gone live da bush.” Believe me it is bush no longer!!
In remembering Miss Jane (I didn’t call her Auntie Jane), I am confident that I can say that so many of us would never be where we are today had it not been for her and HRCU. We had large families. Miss Jane and Uncle Henry had ten; Mom and Dad had eight. There is no way they could have afforded to send all of us to high school, sixth form and university without the help of their being member/owners of HRCU. Since we were little, we all had our credit union books, and our parents took Miss Jane’s sage counsel and saved modestly for us. When it was time to need finance for education, the small nest egg at HRCU was there. Mom and Dad made sure to pay the interest on our education loans, and as soon as we were able, we took over our own credit union accounts and repaid what had been borrowed. The Umbrella Man has never failed us throughout all these years, and it is Miss Jane who at the helm of our own credit union remained steadfast in her stewardship. Look where HRCU is today!!
I thought that the Official Funeral and Ceremonies of Christian Burial for Miss Jane were a truly fitting tribute to her. Her huge family, along with input from the Goverment of Belize, made sure that there was attention to every detail. My secretary/personal assistant and I walked over to HRCU on Hyde’s Lane from our Queen Street office around nine on the morning of December 18th where she lay in state, her casket draped beautifully in the Belizean flag. We signed the guest book, paid quiet honor, and stopped to talk briefly with family members and staff, notably Sonny Meighan, who has been part of the Miss Jane/HRCU family for very many years.
Miss Jane’s casket was then brought by soldiers of the BDF, including two of her grandchildren, the short distance to Holy Redeemer Cathedral for the Mass of Resurrection. Four of Miss Jane’s sisters attended the funeral or burial, and numerous family members, staff members of HRCU, government officials and friends filled the cathedral to capacity for the service and words of tribute. Then, after a brief ceremony of remembrance by the People’s United Party in front of Independence Hall, her body was brought to the family burial site at the Usher residence for interment with full offical honors. A touching part of the burial rites was when over forty staff members of HRCU each placed a white flower on her grave, after Father Smalls had blessed the burial site and recited prayers. Governor General Sir Colville Young, Minister Tracy Taegar Panton, Hon. Johnny Briceno, and Rt. Hon. Said Musa also laid wreaths.
The planning and execution of the entire ceremonies that afternoon were first class, and it was an honor to have participated as she was laid to rest in the presence of her immediate and extended families, her HRCU family, and many friends and relatives who together witnessed this conclusion of an era, the era of the inimitable Miss Jane. May she rest in perfect peace.