Some funerals you attend to show and pay your respect to the deceased; some others you attend to make sure that the deceased has indeed passed on.
On Wednesday of last week, I attended the Funeral Mass, of the late Lascelles Chin, legendary conglomateur, visionary business icon, founding father of the Lasco Group of companies, and preeminent philanthropist; and I assure you all, that my reason for attending this funerary rite, was to pay homage, to the life and contribution, of Lascelles Chin, as a show of deep respect, and admiration, for a man who was truly a Giant, among men.
Hosted at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, on North Street, the choice of the Holy Trinity Cathedral was ample testimonial, as to the esteem in which Lascelles Chin, was held, as the North Street Cathedral, is not one of your run-of-the-mill citadels of worship; but is truly one of the most august, places of worship, for members of the Catholic faith, here in Jamaica. Its history and role caused some to Dub it, and or equate it, in religious stature, and import, to the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.
Understandably so, as the North Street Cathedral, built in 1917, in the Byzantine – Revival style, is an impressive house of worship, made that much more awe-inspiring with its Eighty-five ft, high copper Dome; and its brass scrolls mounted on the walls of the vestibule, chronicling, the Cathedral’s history, that of its Leaders and is easily one of the City’s Architectural Landmarks, And not just as a testimonial of the faithful, but as a Social landmark as well.
That the Holy Trinity Cathedral was chosen as the house of worship, that Las Chin would make his penultimate stand, was fitting, as it is indeed the preferred House revered by believers, and seen as the ultimate sign to the faithful, of one’s post-transition, destination. And as the Cathedral is really considered the Holiest of Holies – quite fitting for Las Chin’s swan-song, as he was regarded by many as an Angel Incarnate.
The Las Chin story is the stuff of which Hollywood Bio-pics are made – born in Bog Walk, St Catherine, he attended the Wolmers Boys School, before venturing into the world of business to find his niche and create his own brand. And so, the business journey started with his first Company, National Trading; from which he moved to Henkel Chemicals; still not satisfied that he was really offering the service back to the people, that he really wanted to, he founded Lasco Foods. Now Lasco Foods, and Viola!, This was exactly what Las was looking for as with Lasco Foods, he had finally found a vehicle, from which he could give back to the Jamaican People, as he had long seen himself as a Service Provider, but as a service provider, he wanted to literally give back, and Lasco Foods, became that platform from which Las Chin, could really give back to the People, as from his early days in his parent’s grocery back in Bog Walk, he had become aware of how difficult it was for those at the lower end of the financial totem pole, to provide for themselves and their families, and so, Lasco, became that vehicle, that would make food and drinks more affordable for struggling families and or individuals.
Naturally, Lasco Foods, was not enough, And so Lasco Distributors was Born, a vehicle designed to take the Food to the people across the Island initially and then the Region. And still seeking ways in which he could multiply his service to the People and thus make their lives less taxing, Lasco Financial Services, was born.
Along the way, to create the conglomerate he lived, he loved, marrying three times, Wives Ruby, Audrey and Dr. Eileen Gonzales, mothering a total of Seven-children. Six of which survived him. And so, it was, that his Family was at the Centre of his world, ‘Incorporated’ one observer opined, in all that he did.
It was not enough for Las, to just provide Jamaicans with low-cost quality food and drinks, Along the way he found the Patrician spirit that saw him encouraging professionals to strive for their best, as he spearheaded the Annua:l Lasco Policeman Of The Year Award; The Lasco Teacher Of The Year and The Lasco Nurse of the Year, he also commissioned the Lasco Foundation, charged with disbursing Scholarships for the needy, and generally overseeing to the welfare for the underserved, whose dreams and or ambitions and potential for service would go unrealized were it not for the intervention of the Lasco Foundation.
And if all of that giving was not enough, Las Chin, even found time to gift a number of individuals a variety of Lasco products, over the years, thus enabling them to start-up their own small businesses.
Honestly, Lascelles Chin was the very personification of the Philanthropist – Not one who would make a donation to make sure his picture and name would be plastered over traditional news or social media platforms in search of “Likes” and or cheap popularity at the expense of the dignity of the truly needy, he was too much of a Gentleman to indulge in such cheap pedestrian orchestration, even tho, there were those, who advised him to, Las Chin was too much of a humanitarian to exploit the hardship of others.
Ever conscious of his humble beginnings, he was never one to boast in any way, shape or form, he chose to live modestly, and in service of his immediate family, and his extended family (his employees), and made Philanthropy, his cause celebre.
Indeed, Lascelles Chin was Truly an Inspirational Leader, and a deeply patriotic Jamaican, one in whom, we can all take pride in, as this was a self-made man, who built a conglomerate, from the ground up. And this is of utmost importance, as it has been said, that many of the businesses that emerged in Post-Independence Jamaica, especially those that sprung up in the late 60s and throughout the 70s, had their roots in Early Ganja smuggling. This has never been said of Lascelles Chin, and or the Many Companies making up his conglomerate.
And this made him a very rare phenomenon. One appreciated and celebrated by Jamaicans of all-walks of life, who packed into the Holy Trinity Cathedral and unto its grounds on Wednesday Morning of last week, for the Thanksgiving Service and Mass, in celebration of the Life Times and Contribution of Las Chin, and how!
Dears it was quite the to-do, scheduled for a 10:00 am start, the Service got underway as scheduled, to a full house, standing room only which led to the overflow of mourners, being housed under a beautifully decorated Marquee, as each chair was covered with, its own copy of a multicolored, glossy magazine, that was the program for the order of service; with a button with a picture of Las Chin, as a keepsake.
The Service began with a Musical prelude, followed by Tributes from his Children; Grandchildren, and Prime Minister, Andrew Holness; His tribute was followed by a heartwarming Eulogy, by James Rawle, CD, who has since taken up the Mantle as Chairman of the Lasco Group.
Then it was time for The Most Reverend Kenneth D Richards, DD, CD, The Roman Catholic Arch-Bishop of Kingston, assisted by: Rev. Father Arokiados Arumainathan; Rev. Father Howard Thompson; Rev. Father Rohan G. Tulloch SJ; and Deacon Ronald Thwaites; with Cantor Kevin Williams and Organist Dwight McBean.
The Sermon, was gutsy, in that The Archbishop, gave a spirited one, asking More Jamaicans to be like Las Chin, an entrepreneur who re-invested in his homeland instead of spiritting his money out of Jamaica, to horde elsewhere, (one could imagine the Prime Minister squirming, as he has confessed to holding an offshore account as an investment instrument); but this was not a sermon of rancour vitriol or judgment, more like a homily.
There was a reading of Scriptures by Lauren Chin and Las’s Personal Assistant for the Last 30-plus years, Constance Holdsworth; who visibly fought back tears, as she did.
But Luvs, the Congregation was treated to a simply fabulous Concert, as first Dwight Richards, on his Trumpet, did a fabulous rendition of Jerusalema; the awesomely Gifted Maria Myrie and Kevin Williams, literally raised the Dome of the Cathedral with their rendition of the Holy City and raised it even higher with the Recessional; The Truth Is Marching On.
Dears, it was a fitting farewell, to a giant among men, And as we say: Walk Good Las, Yours was a Life well-Lived, To your heirs and successors, we mourn with them and will be their keepers.
And It was quite a high-power send-off, as the Cathedral was overflowing, and not just with the rich and powerful, but also with many of the common folk, who turned up in large numbers to bid Lascelles Chin (their protector) farewell. Among those out paying their final official acts of respect to the late unequaled Lascelles Chin, Were: his widow, Mrs. Eileen Gonzales Chin, looking totally grief-stricken, their sons Richard and David, providing her with emotional support; his daughter Lisa Chin-Watt and hubby Mario Watt and their children Layla and Cameron; her mom, Mrs. Audrey Chin; also out, paying homage; son Wayne Chin and his companion Dr. Janette Collier; daughter Marie Chin and Husband Neil Chin.