By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
My heart is bleeding with sorrow and my spirit is wandering endlessly as I write these lines. The fact that my good friend and dear brother, Jlator Nah Gewleh is dead is beyond description, and beyond my imagination.
See, Jlator was a good friend. I used the word “good” in the sense of a precious jewel you want to hold on to forever, since it is difficult to find one. So when you find that precious jewel, you want to hold on to it. In this case, we must hold on to our good friends because they are hard to come by.
Jlator Nah Gewleh, who died on Thursday, December 12, 2013, after a brief illness was that good friend whom I always turned to at any moment of the day or night to discuss pertinent issues – family, politics, social and the many things we have in common.
Like friends who believed deeply in their ideas and clear-cut positions, we often discussed and debate vigorously those issues we care much about; and often compromised and give in when the other party feels his colleague is making sense. Even when the other person did not make sense, we move on with open minds.
Jlator lived in metro Atlanta for many years. After his first wife, Oretha, passed away in the 1990s; an emotionally overwhelmed Jlator did not wrap himself around his tragedy but went back to school – Devry University, and got his undergraduate degree in Accounting.
Thereafter, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and enrolled and graduated from Walden University, with his graduate degree in Non-Profit Management. Jlator Nah Gewleh was a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Walden University, when he passed away.
Jlator was Kru at heart and was committed to his National Krao Association. He was passionate about his family and sports, especially his Invincible Eleven (IE). In Jlator’s obviously bias eyes, IE is the best in all of Liberia when it comes to football teams.
As a former national chairman of the National Krao Association in the Americas (NKAA), Jlator and other members held the association’s 2012 convention in Liberia.
After he left Liberia in 2012, his sister passed away in 2013. Knowing that he couldn’t live in peace without reaching out to the rest of the other family members in these difficult and emotionally heart-wrenching times, Jlator decided to visit Liberia to pay his respect to his late sister’s memories.
On the day he returned from Liberia, he couldn’t wait to tell me that he just arrived.
“Tewroh, I am walking through the doors in my apartment right now,” he said. “Are you joking,” I asked. “No, my friend, I just got in from Liberia,” he said again with excitement.
After he finally settled in from the long journey, he called again. This time, we talked lengthily about his trip, and about his family for whom he went to Liberia, in the first place.
My wife, Geebly Sungbeh and I, together with my mother, Nanu Dee traveled to Brooklyn Park, MN in 2007 to attend Jlator and Oretha’s wedding. Coincidentally, his first wife’s name was Oretha.
“You love those Orethas, Jlator?” I often would jokingly ask him. “Yes, I do, Tewroh, but I don’t go around asking the woman I am chatting with whether her name is Oretha, before I date her. It just happens.”
Over the years, I traveled wherever Jlator was to pay him a visit. Even after he briefly moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, I spent few days there with him. Jlator also visited our home in Lawrenceville, Georgia countless times.
Jlator always dreamed of returning to Liberia to work in non-profit and in academia after he completes his doctoral studies. Sadly, those dreams went with him in his grave.
According to information from that city, another friend who couldn’t get Jlator to answer his phone when he tried calling him, went by his apartment in Brooklyn Park to ascertain what was going on. When the friend got to Jlator’s apartment on Monday, December 9, he found him on the floor unconscious. At the hospital, Jlator went in a coma and was pronounced dead on Thursday, December 12. Autopsy is pending.
Jlator Nah Gewleh is survived by his lovely ex-wife, Oretha; his two children in Liberia, and hosts of relatives and friends including Eleanor Wleh of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and Rebecca Johnson Grigsby of Charlotte, North Carolina.
I will forever miss my friend.
May his soul rest in peace.
Please make financial contributions to Wells Fargo Bank #1219502067 – Jlator Nah Gewleh’s Memorial Fund.