Clifton Neita, the man who was dubbed the 'complete journalist' by Theodore Sealy, former editor-in-chief of The Gleaner, is dead. He died yesterday morning at his St. James Court residence, Kingsway, at age 92.
Having lost his sight some six years ago, Mr. Neita spent his final years withdrawn from public activity. He had been an attorney-at-law and journalist before retiring as managing editor of The Gleaner in 1979 after 25 years of service.
At the time of his retirement he was lauded by the company's management for his invaluable contribution to The Gleaner, particularly in legal matters.
"He was a very knowledgeable and urbane man, very easy to talk to and full of humour," recalls Ken Allen, former editor-in-chief and currently opinion page editor.
Born in trelawny
Mr. Neita was born in Ulster Spring, Trelawny, on February 25, 1915, to parents Cecil Alexander and Florence Albertha Neita. He received his early education at the Methodist School, Ulster Spring, before moving on to Cornwall College.
Commended for his ability to draw distinctions between the public interest and libel, Mr. Neita provided invaluable legal advice for The Gleaner Company where he functioned as editorial adviser to both The Gleaner and The Star.
He will be remembered for his work in connection with the 'Ten Types' beauty contest which ran in The Star between the mid-1950s and 1960s. Mr. Neita also played an integral role during the early years of the Spelling Bee competition, which began in 1960, and was run by the Children's Own, a publication of The Gleaner. He ran the Spelling Bee for 20 years, and functioned as a Spell Master for 19 of those years.
Among his many achievements, Mr. Neita will go down in Jamaican history as the editor of Who's Who Jamaica, which is the precursor to the Jamaica Directory of Personalities, published by The Gleaner Company, and the chairman of Who's Who (Ja.) Limited. Mr. Neita served in various capacities as a member of the executive committee of the Jamaica Press Association for several years.
He is survived by his wife Elaine, daughter Melanie and other relatives.