A drama ensued at the Capitol Building yesterday when the coffin which bears the mortal remains of the fallen Grand Bassa County Senator John Francis Whitfield could not be opened for the Speaker of the House, Pro-Tempt and members of the Legislature as well as government officials and the general public to view the corpse.
Hawa Lasanna Whitfield, widow of the deceased and other family members refused to open the coffin for viewing on grounds that her late husband (Senator John Whitfield) had mentioned in his "Will" that his mortal remains should not be viewed by the public.
The body was taken to the Capitol for hours as a tradition of giving the late Senator his last respect as former member of that august body.
Due to the refusal of Mrs. Whitfield to open the casket, members of the Legislature pleaded with her but to no avail.
Deputy House Speaker Hans Barshue, apparently infuriated by the refusal of Madam Whitfield to open the casket, said they could not do anything about the matter.
Senator Whitfield died Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at Saint Joseph's Catholic Hospital when he was taken there for medical treatment.
Sources told this paper that the late Senator collapsed at his residence after he returned from his office that afternoon.
Speaking earlier on behalf of the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus, Deputy House Speaker Barshue said the county has lost an astute politician who stood up for principles and justice.
Senate Protempt Gbehzongar Findley termed the death of Senator Whitfield as a great loss to the people of Grand Bassa County and Liberia.
He described the late Whitfield as a political surgeon who propounded political issues without deceit, envy or fear, adding he spoke the truth and was the greatest politician he had ever seen in the country.
Pro-tempt Findley said the late Senator was a man who dedicated his service to bringing about changes in the Liberian political arena.
He narrated that Whitfield played key roles in making decisions at the level of the Senate.
Senator Findley called on his colleagues and politicians to take queue from Whitfield's political philosophy as a means of changing Liberia.
The late Senator John Francis Whitfield is expected to be buried this weekend in his home town in Grand Bassa County.