The ‘irreplaceable & incomparable’ Roger Luncheon laid to rest
Dr. Roger Luncheon was many things: Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary, a father and grandfather, a lover of music and good food, and someone who always wanted to have the last say.
And on Tuesday, when hundreds of people gathered to pay their last respects to him at his funeral service, Dr. Luncheon reminded them of exactly who he was, literally.
Dr. Luncheon read his own eulogy. He recorded that speech in 2019, four years before, when he felt he would pass away.
At the end of his 30-minute eulogy, he said, “This is my story from the year 1949, when I was born, to the year 2019, when I died.
“Roger Luncheon, Lot Three Stanley Place, Kitty. Former Cabinet Secretary, Former Central Executive Committee Member of the People’s Progressive Party.”
It was an unusual thing but many acknowledged that Dr. Luncheon was no ordinary person.
“Roger Luncheon was no ordinary mortal.
“He was a man for all seasons, a versatile individual with a soft caring heart and a gift for human kindness.
“Blessed with a brilliant intellect, he was a consummate professional dedicated to exceptional standards of public service,” President Dr. Irfaan Ali said at the funeral service hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown, on Tuesday.
Dr. Ali was among those who spoke glowingly about Dr. Luncheon.
For the Head of State, Dr. Luncheon was both a friend and a mentor, a lover of the Carl Douglas song ‘Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting’ and a committed political leader.
Dr. Ali wasn’t the only Head of State Dr. Luncheon worked very closely with. He also served as the right-hand man for five other Presidents: Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Samuel Hinds, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
In fact, he has been Guyana’s longest-serving Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary and Secretary of the Defense Board. These are roles he served in from 1992 to 2015.
Two-term President Dr. Jagdeo, who now serves as Vice President, emphasised how invaluable Dr. Luncheon was during his presidency. According to him, no major decisions were made without Dr. Luncheon’s input or approval.
He also said that it was Dr. Luncheon who helped the People Progressive Party return Guyana to economic viability and political stability.
“Here was this great intellect trapped in a failing body.
“He had so much to offer yet but the body would not allow him to do that,” Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said.
Though he was best known for his political contribution and even as a medical doctor, Dr. Luncheon’s family pointed out that he was an all-round gem of a person.
Joan Archer, Dr. Luncheon’s twin sister said he easily gave away his belongings to people in need.
“He just was not motivated by material things or money. His fulfilment came from serving others in any capacity,” she said.
The man’s son, Shaka, highlighted that his father instilled key virtues in all his children.
“He always had patience- maybe too much patience- but he loved me and he understood me.
“And it’s that understanding that shaped me to be the person that I am today,” Shaka Luncheon said.
Before the funeral service, there was a procession across Georgetown, stopping at many of the places significant to Dr. Luncheon. His body was taken to the Office of the President, where he spent decades working; to Freedom House, the headquarters of the PPP where another large gathering paid their respects to the party’s stalwart; and his humble Stanley Place house.
As people continue to reflect on the life of Dr. Luncheon, the National Intelligence and Security Agency building will be renamed to honour him.