Salone News

Eulogy: Mrs. May Joanna McCormack

17 August 2009 at 01:39 | 1061 views

By Roland Bankole Marke, Florida, USA.

The news of the passing of Mrs. May Joanna McCormack (nee Davies), sent ripples of shockwaves filtering around the world. I was shaken to the core learning about her fate. For the rest of the day I was bombarded with more questions than answers. Like me, several people are asking but why? My intuition told me that May’s life was an insightful and spellbinding movie that ended too soon, if not prematurely. Words cannot accurately represent or measure the emotional, mental and spiritual convulsion of grief. How could this outgoing, energetic woman’s life, filled with optimism be cut so short? The mystery remains embedded in a cocoon of unanswered questions through our terrestrial eyes.

Last year, she left the shores of Sierra Leone to attend a family celebration in the US. Little did she expect that she would not return home alive. One of the most aggressive forms of cancer would ravage her body though not her soul. Because of her positive thinking, she believed that in the fullness of time, she would defeat the enigma. But succeeding events proved otherwise. Her courage and faith, dealing with her illness and infectious smiles over the past year is inspiration for us all to emulate. A fervent prayer warrior, she often prayed for others during her illness and became a source of encouragement, and a tower of strength. She was the rally factor and ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ of the family: whose sunset dawned while it was noonday. G.F. Handel’s masterpiece ‘Soft and Low’ is nostalgic of our memorable days at Saint Peter’s Church Choir at Congo Town, Freetown, where I associated with May as a choir boy.

Soft and low, the mourner’s sigh we hear…..

From sorrow’s fount will flow the falling tear…..

When parting has broken, the ties that love had blessed…..

May (Aunty May as she was fondly known) was born on May 31, 1951, the third child of the late Rev and Mrs JAD Davies. She attended Cathedral Girls School and the Annie Walsh Memorial School. She graduated with the Higher Teachers Certificate from then Milton Margai Teachers College, and a Masters in Education from the University of Bath, UK, in 1997. After many years of teaching at various schools in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Kenya, and with several projects as Education Consultant, she retired in 2003. It is not a surprise that her four children too climbed the educational ladder to earn university degrees. Her first two daughters recently earned a terminal degree (PhD).

She returned to Sierra Leone in 2004 with her husband, Fred, taking up a position with the National Electoral Commission in 2005. Recently, she served as Chief, Procedures, Training & Capacity Building. In addition to her work, May was very active in her community. In Kenya, she was an active member of Christ Church, Nairobi, where she served for many years as Secretary to the Church Committee. She devoted over 18 years of dedicated service to St Mary’s School, both in and out of the classroom. She was a founding member and one-time chairperson of the West African Women’s Association in Kenya, which hosted an annual Fundraising Gala. In Sierra Leone, she was an active member of the Women’s Ministry of St Augustine’s Church, Freetown. She was also a member of the Mother’s Union.

May(pictured) is survived by her husband, Fred; children, Fredline, Fredanna, Freida, and Adetokumboh; step-daughter Fredericka; sons-in-law, Aaron and Desmond; and granddaughter, Anaya. She is also survived by her sisters, Joya, Josephine, Marion Jestina, Alice Judith, only brother Josephus, and Jeanette. She leaves behind many relatives and friends. Although she is gone, she will never be forgotten. She is sorely missed, but as believers we rejoice, knowing that she is settled in the ‘Homeland’, where there is no sadness, no more pain and by faith and God willing, we expect to be reunited. Funeral service will take place at Samaria West African Methodist Church, and interment at Ascension Town Cemetery. The poem ‘Sunset at Noonday’ is dedicated to May’s memory.

The clarion call shredded our bleeding hearts

An inevitable journey: May’s shocking flight

Patiently, she endured Lucifer’s gruelling fight

She barely plucked the fruits of an endless toil

People embrace her charming wonderful kind

Singing heart of love’s accomplished mission

Death’s gluttony shattered unfathomable bond

But Father Abraham’s bosom holds watertight

In celestial garden nectar of love blooms bright

Her faith like oyster clings to a protective shell

An invincible infallible architect shepherds best

Her predestined solace hallmark of timeless rest

Enduring bliss permeates serene celestial breast

Chanting hallelujah: May’s soul claims her nest.

Roland Bankole Marke is a Sierra Leonean writer: visit his website on