Log In

Reset Password

Tributes paid to Ranville Thomas Sr, ‘a calm, humble and generous man’

Ranville Thomas Sr (Photograph supplied)

Friends and family this weekend bid farewell to Ranville Thomas Sr, a father, pastor and restaurateur behind the Jamaican Grill, who died at the age of 79.

Mr Thomas was remembered as a calm, humble and generous man in a ceremony filled with song and prayer at the Heritage Worship Centre on Saturday.

Ronnelle James said Mr Thomas was a man who could earn respect without raising his hand or his voice and who had an open home for those who needed one.

Ms James said: “Thank you for being a model gentleman, a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a hard worker, a devoted pastor and a true friend.”

Glenn Brangman said Mr Thomas had served as a mentor to him and others, describing him as the “calmest, coolest” pastor you could find.

Bishop O’Brian Cartwright recalled an incident when he was in hospital and likely to lose his leg when Mr Thomas and others came to his room to sing.

“My leg was in a condition where there was metal all over the outside, it was swollen, and it was like that for seven months.

“At times I thought ‘God, just cut my leg off and let me go’, but I could always remember them singing for me.”

Seymour Barclay, president of the Jamaican Association of Bermuda, said the full extent of Mr Thomas’s kindness and generosity might never be known because he did not seek the limelight.

Mr Barclay said: “The home of Aunt Tency and Uncle T was my first home when I first visited Bermuda. They welcomed me in to their home and took excellent care of me.

“I am confident that this sentiment would be expressed by many many more persons who have come into contact with the Thomas family.”

He added that Mr Thomas “had the heart of an angel” and was a firm believer in God and principles.

“His kindness was felt my many in all walks of Bermuda and Jamaica.

“My parents always speak highly of the Thomas family while growing up in Jamaica and while living here in Bermuda I was able to experience this warm hospitality from the day I landed here up until the last time I saw him in church.

“He was truly a quiet giant in generosity, influence, dedication, inspiration and love. He will be surely missed by the West Indian and Bermudian community.”

Born in Jamaica, Mr Thomas came to Bermuda to work as a mason.

His daughter, Florence Darrell, told The Royal Gazette in 2002 that while Mr Thomas had met his wife in Jamaica as children, they were reacquainted with each other in Bermuda, where she had come to work as a caretaker for children.

She said that Agatha had long dreamt of having a restaurant and the couple worked hard to make the dream a reality.

"My mother's father, my grandfather, had a food business in Jamaica since before I was born, and my grandmother used to feed everybody in the neighbourhood, all the stray kids and that's where my mother got it from,“ Mrs Darrell said.

“She grew up with that mentality – to feed people.

"Then she had a vision; a desire to have a restaurant. My father is an excellent cook but it was really my mother's dream. She used to look after children but wanted to do something different. And having seen her father operate a business all her life, she wanted to start her own as well."

Mr Thomas and his wife, Agatha, opened the original Jamaican Grill on Parsons Road in 1986, offering a wide variety of homemade specialities such as jerk chicken, ox tails, ackee and saltfish and cow's foot.

The restaurant was a huge success, with a second branch opening on Ord Road in 1994.

That was followed two years later with a branch in Somerset and later their largest branch on Court Street with sit-in dining – a first for the restaurant chain.

The business remained a family affair, with several of the couple’s five children working in the various restaurants.

Ms Darrell said: "We all had our special areas. I did all the fish. My dad did all the oxtails and the rice and my mom did the patties and the cocobread. We just worked as a team.

“We didn't have chefs when we first started. We were our own chefs and because of that, we were able to ensure that the food tasted exactly as we wanted.”

Mr Thomas also served as a pastor at Revival Assembly Church in Hamilton.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published August 15, 2022 at 8:03 am (Updated August 15, 2022 at 8:03 am)

Tributes paid to Ranville Thomas Sr, ‘a calm, humble and generous man’

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon