Marshall Hall hailed as patriot, titan of business

Jamaica’s political and business leaders have hailed Dr Marshall Hall as a patriot, titan of business and one of the country’s foremost academics who used his vast experience to help build his country.

Hall, who is best known for his leadership of Jamaica Producers (JP) Group, where he served as director for more than four decades and as group managing director for 27 years, died early Tuesday morning. He was 88.

“Jamaica has lost one of its finest sons, foremost academic thinkers and business leaders,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in his tribute.

“Dr Hall represented business and thought leadership in the country and played a critical role as a private sector leader in helping to shape Jamaica’s innovations in the economy,” added Holness .

“During his distinguished career at JP Group he pioneered the large-scale modernisation of banana production in Jamaica which helped to sustain the local industry and boosted national employment and export. At a time when many shied away from production and manufacturing in agriculture, Dr Hall was fearless in guiding his company and making a significant contribution to the stability of Jamaica’s export market,” Holness said.

“Dr Hall made an incalculable contribution to national development and Jamaica will continue to benefit from his legacy for generations to come,” the prime minister said and expressed his “deepest sympathy” to Hall’s family, friends, loved ones and colleagues.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding remembered Hall as “an inspirational leader who made outstanding contributions to Jamaica” and was one of the island’s finest economists and business development leaders.

“Dr Hall was a true patriot who believed in the upliftment of people through education and economic development. He was a man of great service to the people of Jamaica,” said Golding, who also described Hall as “a gentleman and a brilliant scholar who loved his country and dedicated his life to contributing to the development and strengthening of the private and public sectors in post-independence Jamaica”.

Hall’s son Jeffrey, the CEO of JP Group, said his father was, above all, a family man.

“He was a leader, a protector, and a selfless champion for his family and for the people at the institutions with which he was affiliated. He did this with sincerity, humility, humour, wisdom and hard work. He showed us how to break down barriers and taught us not to see limits. This was his gift to us, and we truly loved him for it. We will forever miss him,” he said.

A biography on Dr Marshall McGowan Hall, who was born in Rollington Town, Kingston, on September 5, 1934, stated that he received his secondary level education at Kingston College.

He graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1957 and the University of Wisconsin where he earned his PhD in 1960. He served as a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin in the United States and Makerere University in Uganda and as a full professor of economics at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

Hall returned to Jamaica in 1972 and served as dean of the social sciences faculty at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona and as head of the Department of Management Studies, a precursor to Mona School of Business.

He is published extensively in the world’s leading academic journals in the field of microeconomics and institutional economics. He also served as chairman of The UWI’s Mona Campus Council and a member of the Council of the University of the West Indies.

After his academic career he went into business and government leadership, serving as chairman and chief executive officer of Jamaica Public Service, chairman of the Jamaica Development Bank, and chairman of National Commercial Bank and Mutual Life. He was also chairman of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute and a member of the West Indian Commission, the Police Service Commission, Police Civilian Oversight Authority and recently director of the Caribbean Maritime University.

During his executive leadership of JP Group he was credited with implementing thousands of acres of large-scale modernised banana production in Jamaica and leading the development of a best-in-class industrial-scale UK distribution platform for fresh fruit. These initiatives sustained Jamaica’s banana industry and served as a major contributor to national employment and export for decades.

He also championed the international trade fight for access for bananas grown across the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries into the European Union and was seen as a global leader in this arena.

His executive leadership was critical to the rise of the modern JP Group, now one of Jamaica’s leading conglomerates.

In recognition of his lifetime of business leadership and public service he was invested with the Order of Jamaica, and, before that the Order of Distinction in the rank of commander. Additionally, he was inducted into the Private Sector Hall of Fame.

On Tuesday, Charles Johnston, chairman of JP Group, said he and Hall “became a team in 1986 and since that time I always had the greatest respect for his calmness, his wisdom, and his ethical behaviour in the conduct of international and local commerce”.

“He was also a personal friend, a true friend who could be relied on in the difficult times,” added Johnston, who said that Hall and his wife Jeanette “believed in family” and their values will live on with their children Allyson, Andrea, and Jeffrey.

PanJam Investments Ltd, in its tribute, said, “Jamaica has lost a titan of business and nation building — a man with diverse experience that he used to the benefit of his country and its people.”

The company said that throughout its partnership with JP Group, Hall embodied the values of a patriot and a visionary.

“As we begin this new chapter as a combined entity, we will miss his passion, wisdom and generosity of spirit and self. We will work assiduously to continue and protect his legacy,” PanJam said.

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