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From The Archives: Solemn farewell to great man


Julia Rawlins

From The Archives: Solemn farewell to great man

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IT was a solemn day when Barbados’ greatest fast bowler Malcolm Denzil Marshall was laid to rest following a moving ceremony at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium Saturday morning.

Before the service Marshall’s family and close friends gathered in the chapel of the Clyde B. Jones Funeral Home to say their last farewells to “Maco” as he was affectionately called, before the casket was closed for the final time.

A sombre mood presided at the moderately full gymnasium as family members, close friends, colleagues, Government officials and well-wishers both local and overseas gathered to say goodbye to the man who left his mark on many lives.

Not much was said on the outside of the gym, but evidence of the loss of someone dear to Barbados and the world was imprinted on the faces of those present.

Grief-stricken faces watched as the casket containing the body of 41-year-old Marshall was wheeled into the gym and placed to the front, with West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh at its head.

Throughout the ceremony two smiling pictures of the great man looked upon those gathered as if to say: “I’ll always be with you, even if only in spirit”.

Loving, caring

Floods of emotions registered on the faces of many as Dr. Rudi Webster read the prayer written by Marshall’s son Mali after hearing about his death. The prayer described Marshall as loving, caring and quiet.

Memories of Marshall’s final hours were shared with the congregation.

His final words before he departed at 5:30 p.m. on November 4 were: “Connie, I love you.”

A hushed calm and smiles of the memory passed among family members as Marshall’s former captain at Hampshire County, Mark Nicholas, delivered the eulogy.

Appreciation

Yet, as a stirring musical rendition was made by the Abundant Life Assembly choir and another from Anthony Carter (the Mighty Gabby), those gathered in the gymnasium listened with rapt appreciation.

And, amidst their sorrow, Reverend Wesley Hall offered some comfort to the mourners, assuring them that Marshall’s life on earth had ended but his life in heaven had only just begun.

He told them that before Marshall succumbed to colon cancer he accepted the Lord as his personal Saviour and had no doubt gone up to heaven.

It was with this message in mind that the funeral procession departed for St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church for the burial, where students of Marshall’s former secondary school, Parkinson Memorial, lined the path along which his casket was wheeled.

At his graveside, tears flowed freely. Grim faces, teary eyes hidden by dark sunglasses and people leaning on others for support was the scene.

No longer able to hold back her tears, Marshall’s widow, Connie, cried openly as she placed a rose and a wreath on the casket, followed by Marshall’s daughter Shelly and other family members.

Friends and well-wishers followed in close succession placing wreaths on the casket and having private words with the deceased’s friend.

Supported by St. Bartholomew’s church choir, graveside hymns were sung on a sober note.

As the finality that Maco was really gone struck home, renowned cricketers – Curtly Ambrose, Brian Lara, members of the West Indies Cricket board, and others from the sporting community – shed tears openly as the body of their colleague was lowered into the grave.

Immediately following the burial, those who attended offered their condolences to the great cricketer’s family and close relatives.

Some, however, took the opportunity to get an autograph from some of their favourite cricketers.

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