Donald Alexander ‘Jack ‘ Hope was born in Belize City on October 26th 1943. He and Edison or ‘Brads’ as he is better known, were the sons of Donald Hope Sr. and Maud Patterson.
Donald was also the father of siblings Robert “Bob” Lottie and Laura, both deceased, Norma and Rita. They grew up closely, and in harmony. I am told that his well known nick name, ‘Jack’ was bestowed on him by his maternal uncle John Patterson, arising from a certain childhood fondness for his thumb.
He attended St. John’s Primary School and then went on to St Michael’s College where he recalls Said Musa among others as a classmate.
Baptized and confirmed an Anglican, he served as, an acolyte at St John’s Anglican Cathedral under Bishop Gerald Brooks. He recounted to me the hotness and discomfort of wearing the black cassock and kneeling for seemingly interminable hours before the altar.
His thirst was quenched and spirit revived during the usually lengthy sermon, only by a quiet genuflection and retreat to the vestry to seek relief from the cellar (usually well stocked). Thereafter a re-energized return to the altar for the Kyrie Eleison.
I quite understood his plight having served myself as an acolyte at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, and resorting to this same practical relief measure as no doubt, other suffering acolytes then and now continue to do.
After leaving St. Michael’s College, Jack worked briefly with the Public Works Department then went on to join the Belize Police Force in 1968 where he served until 1975, moving on to the Ministry of Works thereafter.
His marriage in 1966 to Verna Faber (now deceased) produced four children, Beverly, Wayne (deceased), Sidney and Alston. His youngest son Dorian was fathered with Vicenta Henry whom he married on 14th May 2003. He cared for Vicenta’s children Patty, Bernadette, Lewis and Jason as his own, and together they adopted and raised Keisha, their youngest child. He was the loving grandfather of eighteen all told.
Jack was one of the pioneers of Belmopan, the new capital, establishing his home there in 1970. He later moved to this residence here in Camalote in 1988, where his many friends gathered occasionally, most famously to view the Holy Saturday Cycling Classic which became an event everyone looked forward to .... barbecues, washed down by early morning ice cold beers, with a trophy award for the first rider to pass by on the way to San Ignacio.
We even adopted a rider from Quintana Roo, Bonampak Tepchuk by name who, running dead last in the race, experienced a puncture as he passed by. He was quickly assisted by the young men of the family, and sent on his way, energized by grilled meats. He leisurely passed back some three hours later.
The gathering greeted Bonampak for some years thereafter as he continued to ride, not to win, but to receive the special treatment and trophy that was reserved just for him by Jack, his self appointed patron.
This was the quintessential Jack .... in his element, as they would say.
Jack Hope was a respectful person who feared no man and who saw public service as a virtue and Christian duty. He despised arrogance and the abuse of power by those in authority. That was his disposition when he was in the Belize Police Force where many despots abided, and what I observed of him when he served in the Ministry of Works, and the Lands and Surveys Department, Ministry of Natural Resources.
While he was always courteous and helpful to all, staff and the public alike, he did not hesitate to voice his objection to instances of abuse and injustice. Indeed this is an increasingly rare quality in public service given the persistent intimidating effects of vindictive, one dimensional, patronage-driven party politics in our society.
He was not disheartened by this repetitive state of affairs, but remained resolute in his belief that better could be achieved and should be aspired to by those seeking political office; that through honesty and faithful service, without fear or favour, our children would inherit a better Belize.
This is how I think he would wish to be remembered, as one who in his own humble, decent and caring way, never forgot his roots, treasured his many friends, understood the weaknesses and flaws of humanity, and endeavored to persevere in his belief of doing the right thing and in seeing the right thing done.
Let us be so inspired. It is do-able because Jack Hope’s life is a shining example that it is possible to do so.