Doswell Coakley’s Funeral

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Senator Fred Mitchell wrote this tribute to the late former Senator Doswell Coakley which was read in his absence from the country by Al Dillette. He was buried following a state funeral at Christ Church Cathedral on Friday 25th October 2019. His body lay in state at the Senate on 24th October 2019. Leader of the PLP Philip Davis signs the book of condolences on 24th October 2019:

Message From Senator Fred Mitchell 
Funeral Of the Late Doswell Coakley
Christ Church Cathedral 
25 October 2019

I apologise to the family and friends this morning for not being able to speak in person at the funeral of my late friend Dr. Doswell Coakley. I thank Al Dillette for agreeing to read this message.  I use the title doctor as it applies to Doswell advisedly because it is something that connects us. He was not a man impressed by titles but in our personal history it is an accomplishment about which he often boasted as having been facilitated by me.

Back in the 1980s when I was a registered voter in Freeport, my partner Al Dillette who is reading this note for me this morning, owned a public relations firm called Al Dillette & Associates. It was quite successful. Doswell needed an office to facilitate the work toward his Ph D and he asked us if we could be the facilitators.  We agreed. In the end, he was successful in his course of study and having accomplished the degree whenever I saw him at a social gathering and he was introducing me to the many people that he knew he would always tell the story of that long ago association.

I remember that story also because it was at that time that I got to understand his love and appreciation for the city of Freeport. He was a supporter of this city. He would never say died. He believed that Bahamians had a role to play in its development and  was an advocate for that development, even as he experienced the struggles of Freeport and the vicissitudes of life in Grand Bahama which affected him. He always spoke up for Freeport. This was not easy even in our day because there were economic and business consequences for going against the grain in Freeport.

He formed together with other likeminded businessmen and women an organization called FIDA and it was through this organization that he found a voice for the voiceless in Freeport. It has been a constant battle for him to ensure that the Bahamian stamp was marked indelibly on Freeport and in Grand Bahama. He   did not want the Bahamian to be written out of the history of Freeport.

His last public act was that of serving as the Secretary of the Board of  cross party affiliation that reviewed the provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and made recommendations under the Perry Christie Administration for what should happen in Freeport and the tax policies that should be pursued. He was an active member.  I have no doubt that when the history of Freeport is written his name will appear on many of its pages.

I most often ran into him at Ascension Church. He and Jan worshipped in their own quiet way at the Anglican Church in Lucaya and he was a strong member and supporter there.  Jan was his constant companion and champion. He was after all the son of an Anglican priest. He took his membership seriously. I could always count on seeing him after New Year’s day in the church where I usually spent New Year’s and would exchange our greetings and comments about the issues of the day.  He always had an encouraging word and a greeting from his dear mother.

Jan: to say he will be missed is to be trite for sure but he will be missed. There are simply some people that you associate with a place and time. He had served as Consul General in New York, Director of Immigration, a Senator and police officer.  He knew the public service like the back of his hand. Int hat regard he was he consummate public servant. He was faithful father and husband. Jan we share your great loss of this great contributor to the development of our country.

May he rest in peace. Farewell my friend.