Jamaica’s Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke died Thursday of an apparent heart attack at an airport in Florida.
Clarke, 74, had been at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida since mid-July where he had undergone surgery for a back problem and was returning to Jamaica when he died at the airport.
“Clarke decided to return home and collapsed at the Fort Lauderdale airport. His wife was with him and he has passed,” said People’s National Party Deputy general secretary, Raymond Pryce.
A government statement said that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had expressed condolences to the family and friends of Clarke on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, and that further information would be released soon.
“It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we advise of the death of minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Roger Clarke,” the statement said.
A longstanding member of the ruling PNP, Clarke had told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper earlier this month that he was committed to a much healthier lifestyle, ending his “rum-drinking days” following surgery at the Florida hospital to alleviate back pain caused by a pinched nerve.
“When you see me, you going think ’tis Usain Bolt,” said Clarke, who cut a large figure. “My wife says I must stop drink after today, so no more liquor in my life. No more rum-drinking days,” he told the newspaper.
The veteran parliamentarian said he was on the mend and in good shape and “the love and admiration of the ordinary Jamaicans” was his medicine.
Dozens of supporters quickly began expressing their condolences and paying respects toClarke via social media sites.
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