Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Toots’ funeral boycotted - Daughter says lost burial order is answered prayer

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:17 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
The casket carrying the remains of the late Fredrick ‘Toots’ Hibbert.
The casket carrying the remains of the late Fredrick ‘Toots’ Hibbert.
Doreen Hibbert, widow of the late Toots Hibbert.
Doreen Hibbert, widow of the late Toots Hibbert.
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Gospel singer Jenieve Hibbert-Bailey, daughter of music icon ‘Toots’ Hibbert, is praising God for what she terms “answered prayers” after her father’s funeral had to be abandoned yesterday because the burial order could not be found.

The thanksgiving service for the internationally acclaimed reggae star, the frontman of the group Toots and the Maytals, was held yesterday, but the interment had to be halted abruptly when the family discovered that they were not in possession of the burial order.

Toots’ widow, Doreen, and their daughter Leba were in charge of planning the funeral for the Grammy Award-winning reggae artiste, whose career spanned six decades. At the end of the thanksgiving service, held at the chapel at Perry’s Funeral Home in St Catherine, the family asked the media not to turn up at the interment at Dovecot Memorial Gardens, also in the parish. However, when the entourage reached Dovecot, it was discovered that none of the family members had a vital piece of paper in their possession: the burial order.

“They searched for it, but it was futile. The burial order just could not be found,” a source told The Gleaner. The hearse, attendants, and the officiating minister were parked up at the Dovecot cemetery for over an hour waiting patiently for the family to produce the required document, but it was all in vain. As a result, the body had to be returned to the morgue because there can be no burial without the presentation of the burial order.

And for this, Hibbert-Bailey is praising the Most High.

“God intervened!” she shouted when contacted by The Gleaner. “Me and Wilbert (Toots’ nephew) and other family members have been praying and fasting about this situation because we wanted Daddy to get a proper funeral. The Hibbert family has been hurting, but we decided that we were going to use faith because faith moves mountains. To God be the glory; He answers prayers,” an ecstatic Hibbert-Bailey said.

Wilbert Hibbert told The Gleaner last week that he wanted a huge send-off for his beloved uncle, who has received the highest accolades locally and internationally for his contribution to ska, rocksteady, and reggae music. His desire was for Toots to be buried in his home town of Treadlight district in Clarendon or, if not, somewhere as prestigious as National Heroes Circle.

DIFFICULT DECISION

Wilbert and the rest of the Hibbert clan from Treadlight were not present at yesterday’s service, and neither was Jenieve. “It was a very difficult decision, but it was one that I had to make. I came to Jamaica to honour my father because the Bible says, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’, and so I could not attend the funeral prepared by my sister. Daddy was a people person, and he was always very respectful of the people who helped to put him where he was. He has a legacy, and this was built on his hard work, and I cannot do anything to discredit this legacy. He deserves to be properly honoured, and a private service could not do that,” Hibbert-Bailey said.

She shared with The Gleaner that someone had sent her a statement that spoke to the fact that in life, Toots often complained that he had been robbed by persons who profited from his music and never paid him, and in death, he was again being robbed. This time, she said, her father was being robbed of a funeral that befitted his legendary status.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com