August 2010 Volume 7

Freda Adina Richards-Hanson (April 2nd, 1925 – June 7th, 2010)

Noel Spencer
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Tribute on behalf of the Education community – Noel Spencer

Good morning, I am Past President of the Kingston College Old Boys Association (USA) NY, Inc. My role today is representing the wider Kingston College family, including Camperdown, and other institutions spread over the world.

It is my honour and privilege to do this remembrance today.

Uncle Willie, Aunt Elsie, Aunt Alice, Aunt Nellie, Dr. Marcia Sutherland, Professor Maria Walker, Gracie, Pauline – and other family members- as a family, you kept Aunt Freda close to my family and I.

My wife – Patricia Miller-Spencer has been friends with Marcia and Maria from their days at Howard University, Washington DC. Their close friendship continued after we were married, and Pauline with her cousins Elsie and Alice baby-sat our two children for many years so that we could go out on a Saturday night.  Aunt Freda migrated to the US in the early 1990s and with that I enjoyed another period of her inspiration.

The remembrance of Aunt Freda as an educator/teacher is difficult for a couple reasons. 1. I was not her student in the classroom, but I was her student for life learnings. 2. It has been some 39 years since I met her as a student at Kingston College.  However, the time span that has elapsed will not stop us here.

Mrs. Hanson is remembered as our standout teacher or I will take the position to say “our outstanding teacher of the decade – 1970 –1979.” I was not her student in her classroom, but was fortunate to have her counsel after classes.

Smiley, her son, was my classmate and having his mother at KC as a teacher played a special role for each of us 4th formers – some 250 of us.  Her former students have gone on to excel in all professional fields, name it –Medicine, Engineering, Business, The Arts, Politics.

As an anecdote, as fourth formers we were a "forward bunch" – an inquiring bunch, a bunch of boys with dreams. Sometimes we would make statements to the point of wanting to date some of our female staff; but when it came to Mrs. Hanson – no one dared publicly make such a statement. Not so much out of fear, but out of respect for what she offered and we had Smiley standing beside us.

We considered Mrs. Hanson to be our friend, our confidante. I say this because during the 70s era while at KC; we had some of Jamaica’s largest theatre stars as our teachers: For example, naming a few = Trevor Rhone, Marjorie Whylie, Dennis Scott, Marge Fuller, Mr. Forsythe, and for a brief period – Rachel Manley (daughter of Michael Manley).  We had our headmasters Douglas Forrest, Bishop Taylor, former Headmaster and Bishop of Jamaica – Percival Gibson.  They were a teacher population of giants. Bishop and Doug’s were the discipliners; the others we felt we could only discuss our lessons with them. They were the entertainment giants in Jamaica.

Freda Hanson was always available to us, she could be found most afternoons on the pathways between the 5th and 4th form buildings ready to listen to us, giving us the five minutes we needed.

Here are five characteristics that epitomize Mrs. Hanson.

  1. Teacher
  2. Motivator
  3. Den mother
  4. Leader
  5. Striver for Excellence

During her tenure at KC, it could be considered coincidental that we excelled; I am taking the liberty today to say yes.  We excelled in Athletics, Table Tennis, Swimming, Hockey, Football, Cricket, and of course Academics.  We won both on the field and in the classroom. We produced Jamaica scholars, government scholars, and many others.

Freda Hanson was in the mix of the excellence.  Mike Williams – Business Owner said; she was our Den Mother – at school and in our community in Cassia Park??

Winston Stewart (Engineer) – Pres KCOBA (Atlanta) Inc.

“This is a great loss to humanity. She epitomized a constant ray of goodness with her smile. She will be missed.”  

Robert Kelly (Attorney)- Pres KCOBA (USA) NY, Inc

“For those of you that attended school in the 60s or 70s, you would be familiar with Ms. Hanson. Her warm and engaging personality permeated both the classroom and the campus. Her son Smiley attended KC during my era. His younger brother came later.”

Professor Carlos Escoffery – Lecturer at the University of the West Indies

“Please convey my personal condolences to Smiley and the family.  Mrs. H was warm, loving and caring.  Smiley's famous smile came from her. It would light up the room and brighten your day.  One love Scoff.”

Clive Davidson (Retired Chemist) – Board Member, NY Chapter

“I was one of Mrs. Hanson's students at KC from 1969 -1972. She was a very professional and knowledgeable teacher. She was always calm and had a smile on her face. She never tried to put-down any of her students. She was one of the best to have taught at KC.  May her soul RIP. My condolences to Smiley and the rest of the family.”

Freda Hanson, your leadership, your dedication has been a mainstay in our lives. Walk Good, and each one here remember her smile - “Blessed Assurance”

At the conclusion of my presentation at the funeral; the family suggested to me that they would love to donate the Kingston College Old boy tie I was wearing as part of Freda Hanson’s memoirs, because her major love was Kingston College.

 I so obliged the family; and the KC Old boys’ Association tie was placed in the coffin.

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