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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 2 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Caitlon Clayton/Features Writer IN THE realm of business, there are titans whose vision shapes industries and whose legacy becomes an everlasting part of the entrepreneurial landscape. Today, we gather not merely as mourners, but as torchbearers of the profound legacy left behind by the incomparable Dr the Hon R. Danvers (Danny) Williams OJ, CD – a business mogul whose footsteps echoed through the corridors of success, leaving an indelible imprint on the world of commerce. As we stand at the threshold of this tribute, we pay homage to a pioneer, an innovator, and a trailblazer. R. Danny Williams wasn’t just a name associated with business; he was a force that reshaped markets, a mind that envisioned opportunities where others saw challenges, and a spirit that exemplified resilience in the face of adversity. In this tribute, we delve into the pages of R. Danny Williams’entrepreneurial journey, acknowledging the brilliance that propelled him to the summits of success. His acumen was a guiding light for many, and his achievements stand as a testament to the boundless heights that can be reached with unwavering determination and foresight. As we bid farewell to this luminary of industry, let us not only mourn the passing of a business magnate but celebrate the enduring impact he has had on the economic landscape. In the echoes of boardroom discussions and the legacy of enterprises he cultivated, R. Danny Williams lives on as an exemplar of what can be achieved when passion meets purpose in the dynamic world of business. R. Danny Williams Honouring the business legacy R. Danvers Williams, OJ, CD The passing of Dr. the Hon. R. Danny Williams marks the end of a most remarkable life and an era. Lots of great and deserving accolades will be said about this amazing human being but our relationship with him was special. Sir Danny loved Jamaica College. He gave his heart and time to our growth and development. He was the fulcrum on which Jamaica College turned. He would come to the campus and talk with the boys, the teachers, the workers in a manner that made everyone feel that he cared for them personally. Sir Danny, would complain constantly about the state of my desk and took me up to his house/office to show me what a desk should look like. Clear and empty! He would sit with me and listen to the challenges of the school and then suggest simple but workable solutions. Sir Danny seemed to know everyonein Jamaica and had strong influence overseas too. He would just go into his little brown pocketbook, pick up the phone and in his inimitable voice say “Good morning Joe, this is Danny…” and your problem was solved. He was the greatest “man manager” creat ed by our Lord. He knew how to get the best out of everyone. We would run through a brick wall if he asked us to. He called me once when the first form was packed to its limit and again in his inimitable voice said “Wayne, I need your help…I have 4 boys for first form”…I said 4 Sir…4!!. He said “Yes…I just saw them and feel sorry for them…we must help them” I said “..but Sir” He said “Wayne, I know you will figure it out” That was the end of that. We are all cried out….but will find more tears. Farewell Sir Danny….I will work on the desk.
NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 3 LIFE & WORK R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published June 10, 2012 Neville Graham/Gleaner Writer MYTHICAL OR godlike status attend talk of some people. A conversation with many local business leaders on who has been a big influence or gave them a big break and they will say R. Danny Williams, without hesitation. His happy disposition is only matched by his warm greeting and a genuine handshake that could easily be a bear hug. His cosy, tasteful office feels like a home, with space on the walls for copious citations, awards PLEASE SEE LIFE, 4
NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 4 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE and encomia. Not bad for a man who has never worked a day in his life. Strange from a business icon, builder of several institutions, and mentor to many. “If you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” was the simple yet profound statement coming from this sage. Raby Danvers Williams (yes, now you know what the ‘R’ stands for) can trace the name back to the House of Cornwall, but his boyhood life was one of humble circumstances (mother a dressmaker and father a clerk at the Jamaica Public Service). He rubbed shoulders with sons of the gentry at Jamaica College, but he knew from early that entrepreneurial drive and taking advantage of opportunities would make life better. “When I was living at Holborn Road, around 1946-47, I started selling cigarettes at age 12-14! I knew I had to do that because that money would be needed to fund my further education,” he said. ROBOT TAXI DRIVER The enterprising spirit didn’t stop there. By the time young Danny Williams reached sixth form, he had saved enough to buy a 1938 Morris A8 car. “I was effectively running a robot taxi,” Williams remembered with a laugh, knowing that in present-day Jamaica, a certain senior superintendent of police would look on disapprovingly. “I would transport my classmates for the fare they would normally pay to get to school,” he said. No conversation about Jamaican insurance is complete without recognising the work and worth of R. Danny Williams. “I started in insurance very early; my brother-in-law was bringing home all the books and I read them ... then I started acting as a spotter (making referrals) and getting paid to do it,” he recalled. Most leaving high school in those days had only a few but prestigious options: the civil service, the standard professions (law, medicine, etc), or a place in the nascent University College to do medicine or the sciences. The not-yet 19-year-old Danny Williams chose insurance “because I saw that I could make money if I worked hard at it”. Williams took his lifelong partner early (age 20); since then,“Shirls”has been the ever-present help, solid business partner, the hand that rocked the cradle, and an insistent yet gentle reminder of the value of family time. “We were blessed with six children, and the one thing she wouldn’t back down from is that I had to set aside family time every other week ... no matter what I was doing, that weekend would mean going into the hills up in Greenwich, St Andrew, and spending quality time with the family. We’d ride bikes, work on the coffee farm ... all that sort of stuff,” he said. Meanwhile, Williams was racking up the achievements. North American Life Assurance of Canada (NALACO) gave the energetic, young family man a clear run. By age 23 he was recruiting agents. He rattles off legendary names like Adrian Foreman, Victor Murphy, Herbert Hall, and the list goes on. “We guys formed a fantastic team!” He interlocked his fingers as he conveyed the passion. “We studied hard and we did our homework as we looked for business ... Working till 10 at nights, normally we met clients on the weekend because that’s the only time we could see them,” the old sales lion roared, gesticulating all the time. By age 26, it was R. Danny Williams, CLU and branch manager, if you please! “It wasn’t about me, it was the team around me and the complete support of my wife.” His only regret being lack of formal finance training. The Danny Williams-headed NALACO branch would become the number one branch in the world! The record must show that he respectfully resisted all the entreaties of his father-in-law, Lister Mair, to join Dominion Life. “I wanted to chart my own path. I didn’t want anyone thinking ...,” He stopped just short of calling out nepotism. “We competed head-on, while maintaining a very good relationship.” LIFE OF JAMAICA Fast-forward to 1970 when Danny Williams and his tight circle of mates formed Life of Jamaica. “We saw the need to localise the industry ... keep the profits here ... started out with a princely sum of $2.5 million.” He managed a satisfied smirk as he credited mentor Douglas Fletcher and a list of powerful men (Matalon, Alexander, and so on) who lent their name to an idea that was as audacious as it was timely. Edward Seaga moved roadblocks; that tells why Danny Williams’ politics has received respect and admiration. He still marks the 1970s as senator as most fulfilling because he bridged the socio-political gap. Mentorship came up often, and Danny Williams dishes out credit to Douglas Fletcher for business acumen, Lister Mair for philanthropic spirit, his mother for entrepreneurialism, and his father for working hard and looking after family. He doesn’t resile from the effect he has had on others. “Whatever love my mentees have, it’s because I loved them first ... by giving them the opportunities and advice and watching them grow ... nothing was more satisfying.” R. Danny Williams and his wife Shirley Williams at Sagicor Life Jamaica celebratory dinner. FILE
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 8 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published February 19, 2010 R. DANNY Williams has been appointed chairman of Sagicor Life Jamaica (SLJ), the country’s largest insurance company. Williams’ appointment took effect February 1, replacing Dodridge Miller, who resigned at the end of January. But Miller, who is the president and chief executive officer of SLJ parent company, Sagicor Financial Corporation, will remain a member of the SLJ board of directors. At the end of last year, another of SLJ’s directors, Michael Fraser, quit the board after serving for eight years. No announcement of a replacement has been made so far. Williams, the founding father of SLJ, served as the president and chief executive officer of the company, formerly Life of Jamaica, on two separate occasions. He gave up control of the insurance company more than a decade and a half ago when it faltered in the 1990s meltdown and was taken over by the Government’s rescue agency, FINSAC. FINSAC’s holding in the company was eventually acquired by a Barbados-based consortium, with Williams remaining a director and shareholder through his company Ravers Limited. Danny Williams replaces Miller as Sagicor Life chairman Chairman R. Danny Williams (right) and Governor of BOJ, Richard Byles (left) at Sagicor Life Jamaica celebratory dinner. FILE
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 10 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published January 24, 2004 R. DANNY Williams, chairman of the Jamaica Broilers Group, has urged Jamaicans to support the Government’s newly proposed pension legislation. “I’m calling on all Jamaicans to support it, for it is one of the most far-reaching and beneficial legislation to be introduced, both for the benefit to us as individuals and for us as a nation,” he said. Williams was the guest speaker at the Jamaica National Building Society’s (JNBS) 130th anniversary celebrations held recently at The University of the West Indies, Mona Visitors’ Lodge. He said the introduction of the new pension legislation could significantly improve the country’s worsening economic situation. ’’Similar legislation in Chile and other countries have been credited with the turnaround in those economies,’ he noted. While embracing the present draft and the benefits to be derived, the Broilers chairman said it did not contain all the required elements to correct all of what he termed the ’pros and cons’ of the existing management system. EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN However, he advised that the Government must first “embark on a massive educational campaign to explain to everyone the benefits of the new pension law”. From 2002, it was announced that the Government had embarked on drafting legislation for the reform of the existing Pension Scheme system, as currently there is no legislation which governs how pension funds are managed or utilised. The bill, when enacted, would streamline and put in place regulations for all pension funds in the country, and address concerns regarding the management of these funds. In addition, the proposed law would also include strict guidelines as to how pension funds could be invested, and a limit as to how much is invested in real estate. All approved pension schemes must be registered with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the appointed regulatory agency. Additionally, all managers and administrators must be licensed, and trustees must be registered with the FSC. The JNBS, as part of its celebration, recognised over 90 staff members islandwide for their exemplary service to the institution for 10 years and more. Shirley Dawkins was specially recognised for being the longest-serving employee, with 35 years. Support new pension plan – R. Danny Williams From left: It’s serious business as Edward Seaga, leader of the parliamentary Opposition, makes a point to Oliver Jones, chief executive officer of Island Life Insurance Company, and R. Danny Williams, chief executive officer of Life of Jamaica, at the March 10, 1995 annual meeting and luncheon of the Life Insurance Companies Association at the Wyndham Kingston hotel. GLEANER PHOTO ‘I’m calling on all Jamaicans to support it, for it is one of the most far-reaching and beneficial legislation to be introduced, both for the benefit to us as individuals and for us as a nation’
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 12 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE SALUTES A TRUE JAMAICAN VISIONARY Pan Jamaica Group pays tribute to the life and work of a true Jamaican visionary, Dr. the Hon. R. Danny Williams OJ, CD, JP, Hon. LL.D (UTech), Hon. LL.D (UWI). Danny has left an indelible mark on our nation’s history and business landscape. His immense generosity touched countless lives and extended to the mentorship and development of Jamaica’s young talent. Danny’s impact will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come. Danny, Thanks for Making a Difference. Published May 5, 2017 Huntley Medley/Senior Business Writer WITH A new man, Christopher Zacca, in the president’s chair at Sagicor Group Jamaica since Monday, retiring chairman of the financial conglomerate R. Danny Williams says overseas acquisitions could be the next frontier for the group that posted more than $11 billion in profits last year. Sagicor bought a small insurance outfit in Costa Rica around five years ago and in the past weeks, outgoing president Richard Byles was in that Central American country looking after business. At the time of the acquisition, Byles was reported as saying that based on the performance of the Costa Rica business, Sagicor Jamaica would determine how large its overseas footprint would be in the future. But it’s unclear whether reality is living up to expectations, as Sagicor did not provide an update. Williams was once the man who ran Sagicor, in its former iteration as Life of Jamaica, and was eventually selected chairman under the current Barbadian owners Sagicor Financial Corporation. He will vacate the chairmanship in June to Byles, who is credited with steering the business from an insurance selling outfit to a diverse operation majoring in life and health insurance, pooled funds, banking, property and tourism. The formal handover will take place at the June annual general meeting being held almost to the day 47 years after the firm was first created with Williams at the helm. This is the last meeting at which Williams will preside as chairman before assuming the ceremonial title of director emeritus, an accolade he has described as “a lovely compliment”. He thinks the transition has been R. Danny Williams signals new frontier as Sagicor changes guard PLEASE SEE GUARD, 14 Outgoing Chairman of Sagicor Group Jamaica, Danny Williams (left) welcomes Christopher Zacca, (centre), the new president and CEO, following the retirement of Richard Byles (right) at the Sagicor cocktail to introduce Zacca, at the Spanish Court hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, May 4, 2017. FILE
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 14 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE well-timed and that Zacca is a good pick. “We shopped internally and externally. For the last two to three years, a committee of the board carried out a search. We looked at all the people who would be suitable to run a conglomerate like we have. We have very good people – Rohan Miller, Donovan Perkins ... . They were considered in the mix,” said Williams. “You wanted someone with as wide a financial experience as possible. You don’t necessarily want an insurance specialist. Chris got very good reviews. He was well recommended and he comes with a right skills set and a breadth of financial experience,” he said, explaining the selection. Williams alternated as chief executive and chairman of the enterprise since its formation in 1970. The financial meltdown of the 1990s which impaired the assets of several companies, especially banks, insurance and other financial houses, created the backdrop for the current complexion and structure of the business. RESULTS OF THE MELTDOWN The meltdown resulted in the Government pumping more than $3 billion into local insurance companies through share purchases through its bailout agency, FINSAC. In 2001, the Government’s stake in LOJ was bought by the conglomerate of Barbados Mutual and Life of Barbados, making it the owner of the single largest block of LOJ shares. The conglomerate rebranded to Sagicor Financial Group and LOJ was eventually rebranded Sagicor Life Jamaica in 2008. Sagicor Financial now owns 49 per cent of the entire Sagicor Group Jamaica, whose businesses include the flagship insurance business, a commercial bank, investment banking and property services. The other 51 per cent of the conglomerate is held by Jamaicans, with PanJam Investments owning 31.56 per cent. The stock trades on the local market. Williams credits Byles with having transformed the company from a life insurance sales outfit to a group operation. He is nonetheless nostalgic about the early days. “We started a complete Jamaicanisation of the insurance industry in 1970. We ran the business well and survived the usual start-up problems,” he recounted, recalling that in those days, the foreign insurance companies where simply branch offices of foreign firms that shipped their profits back to Canada and Scotland. Not even North American Life, the firm where he honed his skills in the industry would budge when he encouraged them to offer a stake in the company to the Jamaican public. Among the memorable high points of his near 50-year relationship with LOJ and its successor, was the joy of seeing all staff members acquire shares in the wholly Jamaican-owned firm started with $2.5 million in capital. The repercussions of the 1990s meltdown still stand out among the low points in his career. “Emotionally, it was the low point,” Williams says of the cataclysmic events of the era when poor management decisions by some firms compounded a policy environment of underdeveloped institutional framework, inadequate financial supervision and regulation, high interest rates and high inflation as the Government of the day pushed through a raft of economic liberalisation measures and privatisation of state assets. What is the salient lesson from this period, when LOJ, a company that was properly run by Williams’ account, had to be bailed out by Government funds? “Government must run a country properly,” he shot back. “The fact of the matter is that the meltdown of the 1990s was not the fault of the financial sector,” he insisted. “The meltdown was entirely the result of the circumstances in the economy. It is not possible for financial organisations to be subject to that kind of situation (where) interest rates were 80, 90, up to 100 per cent. The whole bad management (of the economy) led to meltdown and depreciation in assets. The only thing you can do in a case like that is get more capital to salvage the company, recapitalise and make it solvent.” The emotional pain for Williams was no doubt compounded by the fact that the Government at the time was being run by the political party for which he had served as a senator, minister of state and minister of commerce during the 1970s, when he took leave from LOJ admittedly to help then Prime Minister Michael Manley bridge a gap of misunderstanding with the local private sector. “Significant attempts were made to advise the Government before the meltdown. The advice was not taken,” Williams says. “It was depressing, but we never allowed it to depress us,” he added, confident that the conglomerate model with its many mergers and acquisitions has served his initial company well in recent years. Here again, he speaks effusively of the pivotal role Byles played in building the Sagicor Jamaica empire. “The whole expansion from an insurance company to a larger financial institution came largely during Richard’s tenure, and he must be given credit for that. When we merged with Pan Caribbean, it put us into the banking and securities investment business,” the chairman said. What’s next for Sagicor Jamaica? “The Sagicor X Fund has expanded quite heavily into the hotel R. Danny Williams during an interview at his Irish Town residence on April 10, 2017. FILE GUARD CONTINUED FROM 12 PLEASE SEE GUARD, 18
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 17 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published July 10, 2009 Andrew Wildes/Gleaner Writer SITTING IN his office at Bamboo Lodge, Irish Town, R Danny Williams meticulously combs through a pile of papers – stopping finally at Jamaica College’s (JC) staggeringly long list of annual expenses. Nothing else today so clearly exhibits the consuming zeal of Williams to make a lasting difference in his country than what he is accomplishing as chairman of the Jamaica College School Board. It is Williams’ conviction that for JC to operate at any acceptable standard, the school will need at least $20 million each year, in addition to what is received from government and parents – and amassing that money is a major part of his commitment to the school. JC receives from the government $10,500 for each of its 1,800 boys – just over $18 million for all the school’s expenses for the year. In addition, government pays a basic cohort of teachers and auxiliary staff – but then that is it. To highlight the situation the school faces, Williams started down his list and, as he named one expense after another, the gravity of the situation became more evident. For the year, electricity costs $6 million; maintenance of the century old buildings costs $2 million; security, in today’s Jamaica, costs $4 million; class materials – which, undoubtedly, are not even sufficient – cost $2 million; temporary and relief staff outside of what the ministry provides cost $4 million – that’s already $18 million – even before one factors in a competitive sports programme for students at $7 million! “And I haven’t even mentioned welfare yet,” Williams paused, before discussing his need of an extra $7 million to care for students in need. “Over and above what the ministry gives us – the paying of the teachers and what they give us for school fees, and over and above what we’re able to get from parents – some of whom don’t think they should pay anything, we need another $20 million,” the board chairman emphasised as he returned to the school’s list of expenses. There are indeterminate expenses the school face each year to run staff-development and staff-incentive programmes; there are costs for seminars and ceremonies; extra personnel in guidance and counselling departments and extra personnel and equipment in the computer programme. There is a very high cost just for general, at times unexpected, maintenance of the antiquated buildings. According to Williams, replacing the roof on just one building recently cost the school over $4 million. Having heard JC’s dismal list of expenses that so monstrously tower above the funding guaranteed by the government, one can quickly understand one of the reasons why Williams has made the well-being of JC the great passion of his golden years. “When I started to get involved and found out what the position was at Jamaica College, I was appalled,”Williams shared as he began to explain his relationship. Williams, who attended Jamaica College from 1946 to 1952, always had a deep longing to give back. “I’ve always felt that I owed the school something. That’s where I made all my friends, and that’s where I got my education.” Once given the opportunity to give back – starting in January 2006 when he was first appointed head of the school’s board – Williams has been working with staggering fervour. What has come to set Williams apart from others is how he interweaves his causes into his personal life – he is never on a break. “I’ve never asked anybody to do something I’m not prepared to do,”Williams declared. personal events “My personal contribution to JC, in addition to all the time and effort and work I’m doing, is $10 million over a five-year period, and I’m not alone in that,” he said. Williams has even gone as far as having his personal events – like his 75th birthday party, which was celebrated on Saturday, July 4 – turned into opportunities for his friends and colleagues to make contributions. “I’ll be very honest with you, I don’t want no presents. I don’t want anybody give me no shirt and tie and socks,”Williams said, as he explained why he and his family had decided to make JC the beneficiary of his 75th birthday. “We said, tell everybody who would like to give me a gift to make a contribution to the Jamaica College Foundation. I prefer to see the money go there than to see it going into something that I don’t really need,”Williams noted. Thus far, Williams has been receiving tremendous support and it seems he will accomplish the massive feat of erecting a school auditorium at a whopping $90 million. One of the greatest demonstrations of the point that Williams’ success is due, not to his ability to fund needs from his own pocket, but to motivate others to do so, is that already he has collected $75 million of the $90 million of which one person, entrepreneur Karl Hendrickson, has donated $50 million. email@example.com The passion of Williams’ golden years R. Danny Williams (right) has words of advice for boys at Jamaica College before they selected their career of choice at the launch of the R. Danny Williams Career Week at the Jamaica College Auditorium on Monday, February 29, 2016. Winston Wallace (right), Leading Seaman, and Demar Davis (centre), Ordinary Seaman of JDF Coast Guard, show one of the JDF vessels to Chris Williams (left), president of JC Old Boys Association, Hon R. Danny Williams (second left), past chairman of JC, Ruel Reid (second right), principal of JC, and students at the school career exposition 2012 at Jamaica College Auditorium on Friday, March 16, 2012. FILE PHOTOS R. Danny Williams (left), chairman, projects committee, Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College, passes the baton to Ian Forbes (right), member of the projects committee, during a symbolic relay for the opening of the Ashenheim Stadium. Occasion was the official opening of the Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College on Wednesday, February 20, 2019.
NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 18 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published October 28, 2015 GOOD MANAGEMENT and money were highlighted as two critical factors to effectively run a school. That was the declaration made by Sagicor Chairman R. Danny Williams, who was addressing the Camperdown Alumni Hall of Fame Annual Gala, held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last weekend. Highlighting some achievements that have been made at his alma mater, Jamaica College (JC), over the past 10 years, Williams made an appeal to past students of the 85-yearold institution to be dedicated to the task of ensuring that the less fortunate have a chance at a solid education. “The resources given by the Ministry of Education are not enough. I don’t know what would happen if the school didn’t collect auxiliary fees. Children are experiencing some harsh conditions and they didn’t ask to come into the world. My simple message, therefore, is for persons to make a commitment to give back to the less fortunate and assist with development of your schools,” he declared. “If you are going to run a school, there are a few things that must happen. First, board members have to be chosen very carefully for their competence; no friend business,”he charged. “You have to get persons with special skills. You need lawyers, persons with financial skills, and people with good management experience. The same thing I need for the Sagicor board, or any other business, is the same thing needed to run a school efficiently.” Williams also indicated that a good vision is necessary to steer any school’s development. “I got a vision of what could happen at the school (JC) – not on my own – I got help from several other persons. A lot of people don’t realise that running a secondary school with 1,500 students is no easy task,” Williams said. “There has to be regular board meetings; two times a year is rubbish. Meetings have to be held at least 10 times for the year. It’s serious business. Unless you have that kind of commitment, you can’t achieve the objectives that the school is capable of. The students should be priority,” the chairman said. In the meantime, the late James Henry Brown, who was principal for the institution from 1968-1982, in addition to the 1982 Triple Crown winners, were inducted into the Camperdown Alumni Hall of Fame. Brown and persons who made the 1982 football team were recognised for their outstanding contribution to the development of the school, and were lauded for their unswerving commitment. ‘Give back to the less fortunate’ Managing Director of The Gleaner Company Limited Oliver Clarke (right) is presented with a special certificate in recognition of the ‘invaluable’ assistance given to the National Development Foundation (NDF) in achieving its target of $300,000 in donations in the first year of its operation. The certificate was presented to Clarke by R. Danny Williams, chairman of the NDF, at the NDF’s first anniversary and awards function, held on Monday, December 6, 1982. business. We have to look abroad. I have no doubt that we will expand the hotel arm, banking arm, make acquisitions if they are available – that has to be the vision for the future.” Sagicor Real Estate X Fund is a vehicle through which Sagicor invests in hotels and commercial properties. Its dealings are mostly local, but one of its hotels is located in Florida. Williams adds that Costa Rica is just starting to mature, focusing on the pension and group insurance business. What does retirement mean in practical terms for R. Danny Williams? “It’s time for me to take it a little easier. I am 83 in July,” he said. “Most people roll out before that time,”said the insurance veteran and business mogul who retired from executive positions about two decades ago. Williams still works “nine or 10 hours a day”, running his small office that administers what he admits is a“substantial”private investment portfolio of stocks, bonds and real estate; helping to raise funds for Jamaica College, where he was board chairman for 11 years, and has a led a fundraising and investment initiative to the tune of half a billion dollars. He plans to stay active in business and his private charity work. And, as director emeritus, he will continue to attend board meetings at Sagicor, as well at Jamaica Broilers Group, where he also wears the title of director emeritus, but he will be giving up his membership on the Scotiabank board. He has also relinquished chairmanship of the Alkali Group, but will continue to chair the pension fund board there. “In theory, I retired 21 years ago, (but) I am the sort of person who has to be occupied,” Williams said. “I am constantly expanding my personal investment portfolio and looking for safe investment opportunities.” He makes the case that he has to keep earning to take care of his family, which he reckons to be large, with five living of six children, 19 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren, with two more on the way. It has been a long journey for Williams, who started selling insurance some 64 years ago on April 1, 1953. “My parents were not wealthy people. My mother was a dressmaker and my father was a clerk at Jamaica Public Service Company. I was always short of money and glad for opportunity to earn some extra dollars,” he said. He eventually got into the door at North American Life, at 26, where his work ethic, alongside his pursuit of academic studies, helped him up the corporate ladder. At the same time as he pursued his insurance career, Williams was also pursuing his own businesses. “Probably the best thing I did was marry the woman I married. My wife and my father took care of my personal businesses, including paying the bills and filing tax returns, income tax returns,” he said. Williams married Shirley Mair in June 1954. “My wife ensured that I made time for my family. She supported all my efforts made it easier for me to do all the things I had to do,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook (centre) chats with R. Danny Williams, chairman of Sagicor, at the Sagicor Pension Fund seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Monday, March 14, 216. FILE GUARD CONTINUED FROM 14
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 22 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published September 19, 2013 SEVEN YOUNG men attending Jamaica College (JC) were yesterday made the first recipients of scholarships under the R. Danny Williams Bursary Fund. Each of the pupils received $100,000 to cover school expenses, including lunch, uniform and transportation costs. Speaking at the launch of the bursary fund at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium at JC, Williams said he was honoured to have his name associated with such an initiative. “I can’t think of anything that is more meaningful to me – not just because my name will be attached to it … . I am delighted that we have been able to put all those funds into the Jamaica College Foundation,” Williams said. He said close to $21 million has been raised to put into an investment fund for the continuity of the endowment. President of Sagicor Life Jamaica, Richard Byles, who is also a past student, was on hand to donate another $1 million to the fund. Williams noted that the bursaries are not indefinite as students will have to apply each year, and the intention is to at least double the number of recipients by next year. The inaugural recipients of the endowment are Carl Campbell, Cleon Davis, Chanarie Lindsay, Duvaire Wauchope, Nicholas Francis, Akeem Neil and Daniel Thompson. Ruel Reid, principal of JC, said the students were chosen based on their academic performance, with each of them averaging close to 80 per cent or more, along with their exemplary deportment. Seven JC students receive R. Danny Williams bursaries R. Danny Williams (right) presents Akeem Neil with his second R. Danny Williams Bursary Award at the Jamaica College Conference Room on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. FILE R. Danny Williams goes over documents relating to Jamaica College in St Andrew.
NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 24 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Minister of Industry and Commerce Danny Williams opening the third annual exhibition of the Small Business Association at the National Arena in October 1979. Seated (from left): Rev S. Smellie; Adolph Brown, president of the association; Mike Fennell; and Milton Edwards. In back are A.B. Stone and Sybil Campbell. GLEANER PHOTOS The launching of a new insurance product by Life of Jamaica (LOJ), designed to give scores of Jamaicans the chance to own a home, was something for R. Danny Williams (left), president of LOJ, and Minister of Construction O.D. Ramtallie to be happy about. The launching of the Universal Home Owner insurance plan took place at the Wyndham Kingston hotel on June 19, 1991. R. Danny Williams, chairman of the Jamaica Citizens Bank, answering questions at the bank’s annual general meeting at the Courtleigh Hotel on September 23, 1985. From left are directors James Lim, Ervin McNally, Noel Levy and Elon Beckford. THE LEGACY OF A VISIONARY
R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 ADVERTISEMENT 25
NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 26 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Remembering Danny Published September 21, 2023 THERE’S NOT much that I can add to the abundant praises, accolades and superlatives being offered to my fellow JC old boy, the Hon R. ‘Danny’Williams, who left us last week. I did not know Danny during his Life of Jamaica years, nor when he served as senator, junior minister, or minister of industry and commerce in the ‘70s. I only knew him through that one institution at 189 Old Hope Road that we had in common. I think it would be fair to say that until I was elected JCOBA (Jamaica College Old Boys Association) president in March 2014, Danny and I had never met. After all, for most of his years as an insurance pioneer, philanthropist and businessman extraordinaire, I was probably still in short pants playing marbles in school. So I only knew of him as another one of those accomplished men that attended my school. It was not until the tightly contested JCOBA elections of 2014 that I first exchanged words with Danny. I was a captain in the JDF at the time and was hardly impressed by anyone that I did not have to pay a salute to. So when I met him, I was not as slack-jawed as most people would have been when meeting a man of this stature and standing in the world. Don’t get me wrong. This is not meant as a slight to Danny in any way. On the contrary, the only reason I wasn’t awestruck was simply because he would not allow me to be. So humble, affable, genuine and easy-going was he, that a blind man overhearing our conversation would probably wonder if we were in first form together. Danny asked me about my years at JC, about my army career, and interestingly, about the soup in Up Park Camp. That was the first time I was hearing anyone refer to that mess hall concoction as soup, but I smiled and nodded. He certainly knew how to make you feel like you were the only person in the room. I was told that Danny had his favourite in that three-horse election, and I wasn’t it. I worried if his reach and influence would tip the scales in favour of one of my opponents, but instead, he sat calmly, contributed neutrally, and voted publicly – just not for me. Coming out victorious in that election, I began to wonder how difficult it was going to be to win over his support. After all, Jamaican politics almost mandates that you dislike and oppose your opponent, at least until the next election rolls around. So imagine my surprise when the following Monday morning, I got a call from Danny saying he wanted us to meet. At the time, he was head of the JC Foundation and had spearheaded the transformation process that the school was going through, so it made sense that we would need to speak. As I began to mentally prepare for the treacherous journey through Irish Town’s winding roads, I was again surprised when he said, “OK, I’ll be there at noon. And make sure they have soup.” Now, don’t take this lightly. The fact that Danny would leave his comfortable home to climb down to Up Park Camp to see me, rather than summon me to his quarters, spoke volumes about the kind of man he was. It didn’t matter to him that his candidate had lost. What was most important now was the work that needed to be done. It also didn’t matter that I was at least three decades his junior. Having the meeting in Up Park Camp meant that I couldn’t give that all-purpose PLEASE SEE DANNY, 28 R. Danny Williams Memorial Service inside the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College, on Saturday, October 7, 2023.
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 28 R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE excuse about ‘exigencies of the service’to delay the meeting. Or maybe he just really, really liked the soup. Danny gave me a comprehensive background of JC’s transformation project. We spoke of work done and work to come. He told me that in September 2005 when he first started the revival at JC, the entire school was in shambles. Graffiti was all over the place; several roofs were leaking; windows, grills and doors were falling off their hinges; and light fixtures were in bad shape. The first thing he did was to remove some 15 truckloads of garbage from the property. With the help of our old boys, 80 per cent of the school was refurbished, he said, and leaking roofs in the staff room and chapel were sorted out. The JCOBA and our old boys now had a permanent home on the campus, as a part of the old assembly hall was converted into our new offices. The magnificent Simms Building at the centre of the school was re-roofed, and the sixth-form classrooms were outfitted with Wi-Fi and other amenities. The infirmary, bookroom, PTA offices and old auditorium were also refurbished, as was the Cadet Corp headquarters. The list of accomplishments was exhausting. But Danny spoke about each one as an excited father talking about each of his 100 kids. He then asked me what were my plans as president and why did I take up the role. I told him that my son was coming to JC in a few short years, and despite my best efforts to teach him football, basketball and tracks, the stubborn youth was determined to be a bookworm. “Clearly he takes after his mother,” Danny laughed. I told him that this was my motivation for becoming president: to fix the academics which, despite the shiny new coat of paint on the school, was still on life support. We talked some more, drank some more soup and chatted about non-JC things. I was amazed at how he had completely disarmed me and strengthened my confidence in the new role I had taken on. Over the next couple of years, Danny was one of my biggest supporters. Not just there to offer congratulations on the work we were involved in, but to also offer advice. I remember when finally, after years of hard work persuading a bank to issue an official JC-branded Visa credit card with a one per cent cash back to the school, I met Danny to give him the news and to show off the card. It wasn’t quite a brand new auditorium, but I was proud of the work my team had done in putting JC on an internationally accepted credit card. Danny only smiled and nodded approvingly at the card, before leaning over quietly to whisper, “Next year, ask for five per cent.” But such was the man. Genuine. Humble. Helpful. Danny Williams’ passion for our alma mater was nothing short of remarkable. His unwavering dedication to the school and its students served as a testament to the profound impact one single individual can have on an institution and its community. As Danny’s health faltered in his later years, the conversations between us became infrequent. But his contributions to the school and his support for the JCOBA never waned. Danny leaves us at a time when JC desperately needs his steady, selfless and ego-free leadership. I implore my fellow old boys to take inspiration from his life and to return to our alma mater. The walls are in need of paint; the grass is brown; and the campus, once bustling and teeming with us, is now a veritable ghost town. Most importantly, however, the boys tell me that our absence is palpable and our once proud True Blue culture is waning. I know that the wounds are still fresh and the hurt is still there. But as our school prayer reminds us, we have a duty to serve and to do so with gladness. I believe that it is what Danny would have wanted. Major Basil Jarrett is a communications strategist and CEO of Artemis Consulting, a communications consulting firm specialising in crisis communications and reputation management. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Threads @IamBasilJarrett and linkedin.com/in/basiljarrett. Send feedback to email@example.com. DANNY CONTINUED FROM 26 Published November 22, 2019 THE TALK of the Town at The Jamaica Pegasus was an atmosphere of celebration recently as over 200 well-wishers – family, friends, business associates, and colleagues – of Dr the Hon R. Danny Williams came out in support of the launch of his biography, I Tried to Make a Difference. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Jamaica College Foundation for the R. Danny Williams Scholarship Endowment Fund. ‘I Tried to Make a Difference’ Dr the Hon R. Danny Williams signs a copy of his book, ‘I Tried to Make a Difference’. President and CEO, Christopher Zacca, gives a ‘thumbs up’ for R. Danny Williams biography ‘I Tried to Make a Difference’.
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 30 Ĉˑδ ډ ԏն ډ ԌԖԏԐ ډ՚ډ Ɗɣ̹ Ͳշ ډ Ԍԓն ډ ԍԋԍԏ ICWI celebrates the impactful life of Dr. The Honourable R. Danvers Williams 0J, CD, Hon. LLD. JP, CLU, an insurance pioneer, philanthropist, and one of the founding shareholder of The Insurance Company of The West Indies. He will be sorely missed. HONORING THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF DR. R. DANVERS WILLIAMS R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published June 8, 2012 RABY DANVERS Williams is one of Jamaica’s most recognised business icons and philanthropists whose interests span different sectors and whose national service has spanned both public and private sectors. But Danny Williams, as he is better known, will always and foremost be recognised for creating Life of Jamaica, a dominant force in the life insurance market that has impacted many Jamaican lives since its founding June 1, 1970. LOJ is no longer a Jamaican company, and the brand no longer exists. The insurance company fell into financial trouble at the height of the 1990s financial crisis and was sold to Barbadian investors. The LOJ name and logo has given way to Sagicor Life Jamaica – named for parent Sagicor Financial Corporation – but what has not changed is Williams’ involvement in and guidance of the company. He remained a director and is now its chairman. And Sagicor is still Jamaica’s largest and most profitable insurance company with annual revenue currently at J$29 billion and assets of J$161 billion. Undeterred by Jamaica’s recession and sluggish recovery, the company made J$4.9 billion of profit in 2010 and J$5.7 billion last year. On Sunday, June 3, in recognition of Williams’ 42 years of service to the insurance giant, Sagicor named its corporate headquarters in his honour. What was called the Sagicor Centre is now the R. Danny Williams Building. A bust of Williams was also unveiled at Sunday’s renaming and dedication of the building. “His immeasurable input has enhanced the company’s reputation as a caring corporate citizen that continues to play a major role in building a brighter future for thousands of Jamaicans,”reads Sagicor’s citation to Williams. But as current president and CEO of Sagicor Life Jamaica, Richard Byles, makes clear, Williams’impact is also felt even more closer to home throughout the company he founded. “At Sagicor we don’t just love Danny, we respect Danny,” said Byles at the dedication ceremony that was also attended by Williams’ wife Shirley, children, grand and great-grandchildren, as well as former president of LOJ, Adrian Foreman, and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, among others. Williams’business acumen, coupled with wit and honesty, has been instrumental to his service on the boards of several major Jamaican companies, foundations and organisations, Sagicor added in a release. Williams, who is a proud Jamaica College old boy, turns 78 on July 3. firstname.lastname@example.org Building renamed in Williams’ honour The Hon R Danny Williams OJ, chairman, Jamaica College Foundation, at the Formal Opening of the refurbished PTA Shoppe on the Campus of Jamaica College on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, at 189 Old Hope Road. FILE
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NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 32 and private sectors – giving of his personal time and resources to help underserved and underprivileged Jamaicans.” Williams was the founder of Jamaica’s first domestically owned life insurance company, Life of Jamaica, now Sagicor Life Jamaica. “May his life and legacy continue to inspire us as we recall with gratitude his service to public life and within private sector, which has positively impacted the Jamaican landscape,” said Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Opposition Leader Mark Golding said Jamaica has lost a great son of the soil. “Danny’s legendary prowess in raising funds for worthy causes is unmatched in modern Jamaica, and several important institutions have benefited from those efforts,” Golding noted of Williams’ humanitarian work. Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson said Jamaica is now the poorer for Williams’ passing. “He ranks within the highest echelons of committed leaders who have contributed beyond measure to the growth and esteem of our island. He was a towering giant in the fields of business, education, institution building and deserving charitable causes,” said Patterson. “I have lost a precious friend and an invaluable political colleague. No words are sufficient to thank Shirley, his lifelong partner, for sharing him so generously with the entire country and taking such good care of him. To her and the family, by blood and extended, we express our profound sympathy. All Jamaica is bereaved.” Former President of the People’s National Party, Dr Peter Phillips, said Williams was a truly great Jamaican and a pioneering spirit who contributed tremendously to the development of his country and its institutions. R. DANNY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE Published September 17, 2023 HAILED FOR his selfless contribution to the growth and development of Jamaica, sector leaders have saluted Dr R. Danny Williams OJ, CD, who died yesterday at the age of 89. Williams – an insurance pioneer, philanthropist, nation-builder extraordinaire and a former Cabinet minister – died at a hospital in Miami, Florida, where he had undergone surgery. “He was deeply loved, respected and admired by colleagues, employees, and industry peers alike for his integrity and compassion. We reflect on his immense contribution to Jamaica and the tremendous legacy he leaves behind,” said Christopher Zacca, chairman, president and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica. “He was a selfless person who dedicated his life to service in various capacities – both in the public Pioneer. Visionary. Patriot. – R. Danny Williams leaves behind a tremendous legacy Dr R. Danny Williams (centre), chairman of Sagicor Foundation, is greeted with a kiss from Stacey McKenzie, International supermodel, while Yohan Blake, World and Olympic champion, looks on at the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run 2019 official launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. FILE Published September 18, 2023 THE PRIVATE Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) on Saturday night added its voice to the tributes that have been pouring in since the death of revered businessman R. Danny Williams. Williams, a founding member of the PSOJ, philanthropist, and public servant, was hailed by the Metry Seaga-headed organisation as an exceptional Jamaican businessman, patriot, and philanthropist. “He was a true beacon of Jamaica, remembered for his selfless service to nation-building and significant contributions to both the public and private sectors,” the PSOJ said in a statement. Williams was the founder of Jamaica’s first domestically owned life-insurance company, Life of Jamaica, now Sagicor Life Jamaica. In its statement, the PSOJ said he played a pivotal role in achieving numerous significant milestones and successes within Sagicor Group Jamaica. “As director emeritus, he earned several well-deserved accolades, having dedicated over 62 years of his life to the development of the PSOJ, Sagicor join in mourning ‘true Jamaican icon’ R. Danny Williams PLEASE SEE ICON, 34jamaica-gleaner.com