The thanksgiving service for the life of acclaimed broadcaster Dorraine Samuels is now underway, with tributes in words and song at the University Chapel, UWI.
The tributes were led by her three children, Melissa, Russell, and Morgan, followed by her sisters Carol and Pat, who all spoke of the abundance of her love for her children, siblings and wider circle of family and friends.
The Reverend Gary Harriott, who delivered the homily, fondly recalled his working relationship with Dorraine, sitting across from her as host of RJR's Family Counsellor programme for several years, and the warmth she exuded on air and off air.
Basing his message on Psalm 46, the words with which he had sought to strengthen Dorraine, he similarly encouraged those who mourn her passing.
Dorraine Samuels cancer fund
Tribute delivered at the thanksgiving service by Gary Allen, CEO of the RJRGleaner Group:
This tribute has been one of the most challenging things I have had to write in a long time, and at the end, I ask that you understand that I’ve tried my best, but it still feels inadequate.
Family members know, because we have told them repeatedly that we in the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, feel a tremendous sense of loss and a major hole created in both our professional and in some staff members’ personal lives. For you it is greater, hence, we continue to pray for your strength and healing.
Nothing could have prepared us for this past month’s loss of three of our colleagues in ten days. It has been agonizing!
Yet, even as we hurt we draw upon the fact that we have many beautiful memories of the experiences and professional achievements we celebrated with Dorraine.
Our memories are rich and we will keep those in the forefront of our thoughts.
Dorraine’s file at work was substantial because there was a lot in which she was productively engaged.
She was offered a job as Announcer/Operator with RJR The Supreme Sound before Christmas in 1980 and took up that position on January 5, 1981. Her silky smooth voice, her easy tone, her clear diction; her ability to enunciate in her presentation and effortlessly lift words off a paper and make them into images specifically talking to you, are qualities with which few can compare. In time she was not only Ms. RJR – she became The Supreme Sound.
Her various assignments have left different marks and memories on a listening public that was substantial, loyal and adoring of her.
Dorraine was promoted several times during her tenure at RJR – I saw evidence of five promotions on his file; and in her full time staff position, she rose to becoming Presenter and Supervisor of On-Air Staff for 94FM.
She worked her announcer’s shift on radio in the mornings, plus co-hosted the Newsline Six Radio news product with Michael Sharpe on RJR 94FM.
Having worked on Sunday Magazine, Jamaica Today and the Good Morning Jamaica programmes - the latter which she co-hosted with Allan Magnus, Dorraine moved to the Morning Coffee programme in April 2007.
In August of that year she resigned her supervisory position and the following month returned as a freelancer to own the show as Dorraine’s Coffee Break; and a month later, on September 19, 2007 she commenced what became a 15-year run as television news anchor– on Prime Time News – and yes, she again co-anchored with Michael Sharpe.
Dorraine was full of professional poise, and her colleagues recall her as one of the easiest talent’s to work with in studio – live or recorded.
She had a strong sense of service to the community exhibited through her work with Mrs. Hazel Monteith and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, alongside the family counsellor and so much more.
Dorraine was not only concerned about her professional welfare. She represented the best interests of staff formally and informally serving as Chief Union Delegate for the radio Bargaining Unit with the National Workers’ Union, NWU, for a number of years.
She served at the highest level of the company also, being staff representative on the Board of Radio Jamaica for three years, from December 1988 to December 1991.
She easily copped several Awards for RJR 94 FM and as you all know she was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the broadcasting industry with the national honour of Order of Distinction in 1999.
Fittingly on the day she died, we in the RJRGLEANER Group were proud to report that our political leaders paused the business of the country, noted her sterling contribution and paid tribute, across the aisle to her.
From a personal standpoint, I recall vividly how Dorraine became in 1988, “the voice of comfort” for the nation”, taking us through Hurricane Gilbert.
Storms and Hurricanes thereafter were to be covered by announcers using the Dorraine Samuels template.
My best memory though is when I lived in Barbados and on one of her assignments Dorraine, “Sugar Ralph” Mckenzie and another broadcaster came to cover Crop Over celebrations.
She described the stew peas and rice that I cooked that evening as “wicked” and my beef soup on the Saturday as “sweeeeet”.
Finally, I borrow from Tanya Thurlow, Dorraine’s St. Hugh High schoolmate and RJR 94FM marketing executive, who on Friday night quoted the words that are still at Dorraine’s workstation in the office. It says, “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, ‘because of you I didn’t give up”.
For thousands, you did, Dorraine. You inspired many and you did much more.