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Celebrating 'a local life well lived'

R.I.P: Jonathan Parkes

COMMUNITIES ACROSS Birmingham are mourning the death of the popular everyman Jonathan Stanley Parkes, who passed away a month short of his 102nd birthday in his adopted home in the second city recently.

A native of Fair Prospect, Portland in Jamaica, Jonathan was the last of six children born to Kalem and Caroline Parkes.

REUNITED

As a young man, Parkes worked as a cook for the Moncrieff family on the Caymanas plantation in the parish of St. Catherine.

He arrived in the UK in 1955 to be reunited with his child- hood sweetheart Esme Lancaster, who he had married two years before in Jamaica.

He also renewed relationships with Rudolph and Mavis Pinkney from St Catherine, Jamaica, who had already set- tled in the Handsworth area of Birmingham and who he knew from his time in the parish.

“He knew my parents so well and helped care for the siblings, who are now in their 50s,” said Delores Pinkney, 69.

“When his sister died in 1999, he said I should come and look after him and told everyone that I was his adopted daughter. The truth is, that my family adopted him first.

“He lived in Handsworth from when he arrived in England in 1955 until his passing, and everyone knew him. We would go to exhibitions, parks, long coach trips to Europe and he would go out dancing every Sunday night at the local FCF Club.

“He was well-read and even in his latter years would often get books out from the mobile library.”

Parkes initially worked as a machinist on arrival in the UK and went on to work in foundries and as a fabricator moulding plastic.

COMPANION

He lived comfortably in the community after retiring from work at the age of 65, and lived independently until he suffered a stroke in 2014.

After this happened, he needed to move into residential care – Melville House Nursing Home – where he was affectionately known as ‘Daddy Parkes’ and ‘Uncle Jon’.

Pinkney, an ever-present companion and care giver, was on hand just after Parkes had a stroke and when he passed away, on both occasions, almost feeling ‘a sixth sense’ that she should go and see him.

She was able to alert the emergency services to prevent the effects of the stroke becoming fatal. She concluded: “He was a little gem that lived among us and his was a life that was a life well-lived.”

Parkes’ funeral took place on Tuesday (April 9) at Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church in Soho Road in Birmingham and he was laid to rest at Handsworth Cemetery in Oxhill Road, Birmingham.

His closest surviving relatives are ve nephews and a granddaughter who lives in Florida.

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