January 2011 Volume 8

The Miracle that was Kingston College

Everard Hoo
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It was at the 37th Annual Reunion and Awards Banquet held on November 6, 2010 that alumnus of 1942, Keith Glegg, made this remarkable statement in a message read by his son, Robert. The latter was accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award for him as Keith was ill and could not attend.

Neville (Mussie) Gray in his introduction - read by yours truly as he himself could not be present-  said, ”K.C. old boys of a completely different and much younger generation feel that it is better late than never to recognize and honour not only a fellow past student who attended the same school, sat in the same classrooms and played on the same school grounds as they did, but also a fellow Jamaican whose contribution to Aviation Science and Engineering has been virtually unknown in his own native country.”

Keith lived on Lissant Road and entered the school grounds via his backyard. He spent a lot of time in the company of the affable groundsman, Christie Francis and his faithful donkey, Bessie. In 1942, Keith made the cricket team which retained the Sunlight Cup, and won the bowling averages as a leg break/googly bowler. That year he entered McGill University at age 16, and was always the youngest student in his courses of the Science programme.

Keith said it best in his forthright and perceptive message delivered by his son, Robert:--

It was only in retrospect—after a few years at McGill—that I began to appreciate the miracle that was Kingston College.

 I must have been nine or ten years old when I sat in the First Form at “KC”—everyone knew the place as “KC.” Even the term “First Form” allows one to see that this was a Secondary School in a British Colony. Indeed, it was probably, in many respects, more British than the British. Imagine neckties and jackets worn to school on a little hot island in the Caribbean. But then, one of the little miracles was the degree of discipline that pervaded the place. It was an Anglican school for boys, with graduation marked by external examinations set by Cambridge University. So, that was where we were all headed.

 Did lots of us get there? Yes, lots. And this might be surprising, until one recalls the remarkably competent staff and excellent facilities that had been assembled to guide us on our way.

 The introduction to Latin—yes, in the First Form—was given by no less than the Headmaster, Percival Gibson, even then a rising star in the Anglican firmament—later to become the first Jamaican Canon of the Anglican Church. As I remember it, the only problem with PG as a Latin teacher was his wanting, at least some of us, to study Greek as well!

 A year or two later, the mathematics teacher was Joyce Baxter. She had graduated from Cambridge, honors mathematics. It was she who showed me why geometry could be fun, and this was to serve me for many a year to come. This fun spread to algebra. Later, she would show me what “calculus” meant, and extended my capture from geometry and algebra to Isaac Newton’s astonishingly clever invention of differentials chasing integrals.

 This little College, tucked away on an Island, had a fully equipped Chemistry Laboratory, with George Clough as teacher. He had graduated from University of London (I believe), and was a source of endless excitement and challenge for me.

 Then, with about three years for me to go at KC, a Physics Laboratory was built. This was a kind of dream place for me, and the Professor—John Pike,—was a marvelous teacher, and, as it happened, benefactor. He lent me his own professional microscope to take home and see what would happen if a little dirt was added to a little milk.

 It was an Anglican school for boys, with graduation marked by external examinations set by Cambridge University. So, that was where we were all headed. And there were more of these marvelously qualified and capable teachers to help us on our academic way: Chester Burgess for maths; Kenneth Miller for English (and saxophone hymn-playing!); Douglas Forrest for French. This would have been a truly amazing assembly of qualified and devoted teachers anywhere; but extraordinary for a high school on a little colonial island in the Caribbean.

 However, still showing its British colors, it wasn’t all academics. And, to my unending surprise, I actually ended up a good “bowler” (not “pitcher,” as in that other game played with ball and bat).
 In 1942, I left Kingston College, aged 16, for McGill University. I graduated with degrees in Engineering Physics and Physics. Montreal was a truly magical place at this time; and still is. I shared many great years there with my brother Ron, who graduated with a PhD in chemistry.

 I went to work for Canadian Marconi in Montreal, and became deeply involved in the design of radar systems of various kinds. Radar was one of the dominant post-war technologies. Most successful of the efforts of my colleagues and me, was a Self-Contained Airborne Navigator, based on the Doppler Principle, and employing microwaves. For this work I received the McCurdy Award in 1963. I learned how difficult and demanding it can be to invent, manufacture and sell the world’s best anything! I became Chief Engineer and then Vice President of the Avionics Division of Canadian Marconi, which had become essentially all of the Company.

 My next employment was as Vice-President of Canada’s National Research Council. My most significant achievement in that position was the establishing of the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) as the most effective and best-known program of its kind in Canada, and perhaps in the world.

 My family life was largely consumed in devotion to my three children: boy, girl, girl. Doing what is necessary to be first in the world with a device that found its way into huge numbers of military and commercial aircraft didn’t leave as much time for the nice little things of family life as one would wish. But we did have lots of time sailing together, and sometimes we still do.

 So, it is even more so now that, in retrospect, I am able to appreciate the miracle that, as it came to affect my life, was Kingston College. It gave me more than almost anyone would expect to come from a little high school, tucked away on a little island. But it grew out of the conviction that the Anglican Church could express, as no other organ of British Colonialism could express, the best in that Imperial Power’s claim for what its role in the world should be.

 Kingston College came after centuries of the most terrible sugar-based slavery in Jamaica. In its way, it was to be the ongoing tacit apology for what had gone before.

 Son Robert - himself the C.E.O. of 2SOURCE Manufacturing, an innovative and fast-growing global manufacturer of airplane spare parts – has attributed any success he has had all to his father. Keith “made certain in no uncertain terms that only hard-working, honest, persistent people got ahead. My Dad taught me to always put myself in the shoes of the other person and to apply the Golden Rule.”
Aside from his humility and his somewhat self-effacement, Keith’s “sense of humour was contagious. I was at a hospital in the US with my Dad three months ago – he was undergoing a serious procedure - yet he was delighting the medical staff with his jokes and stories,” said Robert.

It was very important to Keith that the communities he lived in be enriched by his presence. This value inspired his volunteer participation on the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa and several colleges, and his involvement in promoting literacy and economic developments in Eastern Ontario, as well as working on a range of local municipal projects.

However, Keith’s most cherished accomplishments were his personal ones – as a published writer, a talented pianist, an avid gardener, and a devoted family man. And he shared his passion for sailing with his family.

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REGRETFULLY – Keith Cecil Malcolm Glegg passed away at his home in L’Orignal, Ontario, on Friday, November 26, 2010. There will be a ceremony to celebrate Keith’s life on February 26, 2011 in Montreal at 10:00 AM, followed by a luncheon.

To RSVP and obtain details of the location, or to send a tribute, please email – rglegg@@Source.com

May his soul rest in peace.

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The Jamaica Observer in its December 5, 2010 edition recognized Keith Glegg and two other outstanding scientists in a featured column entitled, ”HAIL TO These Men of Excellence.”

The columnist called for the Government to recognize Keith “for carrying the name of Jamaica far and wide and should bestow a Jamaican Honour to this gentleman of distinction.”

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