Tribute to Dr Ulrich Jones, a.k.a. Pa Jones

Sep 11, 2020, 1:12 PM | Article By: Dr Adama A. Sallah

It is with profound grief and sadness that I at the Lamtroro Medical Centre in Kololi, have learnt of the sudden demise of our colleague, friend and brother, Dr Ulrich Jones. This has indeed transformed what we hoped to be a joyful day to one of the darkest in my life, resembling the death of a blood relative. He was not only a well trusted and reliable colleague, but a very good friend, partner in our joint medical endeavors and a confidante.

When I speak of Dr Jones, I would like to speak about him akin to words expressed by Mark Anthony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,” He was my friend, faithful not just to me, but to everyone that he associated or worked with”. He was a perfect gentleman and a fine example of how a good doctor should be. In this regard, he was second to none out of the large number of doctors I have worked or associated with during my over forty years professional career as a medical practitioner. During the thirty years or so that I have worked with Dr Jones, I found him to be full of wit and wisdom, intelligence, humility and a cultured humor that he would not spare the slightest opportunity to show. Whenever I met him, we would try to tease each other. He would look at my “big stomach” and jokingly remark, “Is this Kwashiorkor or sign of affluence” and I would I would retort and say in the like manner “No, it is neither of the two, but it is, for all intents and purposes, a classic example of Protein Energy Malnutrition {PEM] and this would be followed by a loud burst of laughter from both of us! When I speak of my dear friend and colleague, Dr Ulrich Jones, I would like to do it in Othello’s appeal. This is what Othello said in his tragic appeal,  “Speak of me as I am, nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice”. This was precisely the appeal of Dr Jones. Now that my dear friend and colleague is no more, we are all the poorer for his loss. This tragic loss become even more painful and devastating, as we come to grips with the stark reality that we can no longer share his succinct and ready wit and wisdom, the splendid manifestation of his profundity of thought, his clarity of expression, the warmth of his extremely stimulating company and above all his well known humor. Furthermore, he had great charm and abundant grace and heartily enjoyed the camaraderie of his colleagues, friends and associates, particularly those who had the good fortune to work with him. He was very respectful and manifested the fullest and unconditional respect for all the people he worked with or came across, be it professionally or socially, from the youngest cleaner to the most senior consultant like himself. Dr Jones easily towered head and shoulders above most doctors I have ever worked with in my professional career, which spans over four decades, as far as personality and character are concerned. He was and embodiment of understanding and compromise without necessarily abandoning his principles. He clearly showed that in this world, there is no need for fussing and fighting, harboring grudge and envy for each other, particularly within the medical profession. After all, we are all going to depart this world sooner or later and leave everything behind. That being the case, we should all endeavor to leave behind a good name and legacy.  Today’s young doctors would be well advised to try to emulate the exemplary manners and behavior that epitomized Dr Jones’ personality, even if it is a small part of it. Dr Jones also had a delightful gift of language, be it his native Creole or the English language and was at his best when he sat down with friends and colleagues, be it over a drink, food or just a simple chat. With him, one easily found himself in a lively, stimulating and spirited discussion, on a wide variety of subjects, be it Surgery or Medicine, in which he was a master, Law, Politics, Religion, History, Education, Philosophy, Literature and a multiple other subjects of interest to those that he was having a conversation with.  For me personally, the company of lively contemporaries and friends in the know, and a clash of minds upon minds – a wholesome intellectual exercise – which develops into an atmosphere of conviviality and informality, greatly captivates me as a great lover of open, frank, honest and intelligent discussion and debate, without undue expression of negative sentiments which is not is not easily found in The Gambia (maybe in Senegal, as seen on their TV). This was why my friend Dr Jones’ company, easily evolved into a gravitational  pull which those of .us who enjoy enriching and stimulating discussions, irresistibly found ourselves drawn or propelled into.

What many people may not know, let alone appreciate, is that he loved life and enjoyed it in all its different facets and ramifications. This aspect of the man’s life comes alive and clear when we reflect on those good old days when we sat down together for a drink, food or to have a party. This characteristic of Dr Jones is clearly expressed in the words of an ancient Egyptian Philosopher, Omar Khayam, who once said, “The flower that has once blown forever, dies and must therefore enjoy itself while the going is good”. This concept can also be found in classical language {Latin} expressed in the following words, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, meaning: “enjoy the present day, trust the least to the future”. With this in mind, Dr Jones never spared himself the opportunity to bring the well needed happiness to himself, colleagues and friends which gave him the possibility to manifest his characteristic kindness, affection and humor whenever the exigencies of his very busy schedule of work allowed him to do so. By any measure, his camaraderie availed us the best of times which may be difficult to replicate by any of his colleagues. In point of fact, some of us to this day, often recall, with nostalgic delight, the many occasions we spent in his company with his characteristic easy manners and simplicity which won him the admiration of many of his colleagues and friends. This, undoubtedly, helped to create the special appeal for the social gathering that he was a part of. There is a Wollof saying: “A good and trusted friend might be better than a blood relative”.

Finally, I would like to say adieu to my good friend and trusted colleague;, you were one of a kind. May your exemplary soul rest in perfect peace at the highest level of Jannah {Jannatul Firdaus}.  Your are gone my friend but will never be forgotten, especially by us here at Lamtoro.  Your departure from this earth will leave a big void in our hearts, but we remain with the consolation that you are going to a better place where you will peacefully wait for us until we meet again, INSHALLAH. WE have no doubt that you will most certainly be one of the brightest stars in heaven. Ameen Ya Rabbi.