October 2010 Volume 7

Tribute To Dr. Aston Chin

Dr. Derrick Aarons
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Family, friends, and associates of Dr. Aston Chin, I wish to express deep condolences on behalf of the Kingston College Old Boys Association.

Our tribute today will take the form of a collage of memories of Dr. Chin's classmates at KC, dating back to first form in school, as well a few additional comments from others like myself who shared time with him during those wonderful years.

I begin with a tribute from Professor Carlos Escoffery, the Jamaica Independence Scholarship Winner in 1972, and current Professor of Pathology at the University of the West Indies:

Aston and I came to KC together in that famous (infamous) Form 1A of 1966. We went right through school together and there was never a dull moment with Aston - a most unusual fellow as we all agreed!!

He was a real livewire and practical joker, but always caring and always there for the rest of us.

Some may not know but he was famous for a feat not commonly associated with Chinese KC boys at the time - he could pick any lock that God or man had devised!!! So good was he at this feat that at one time his nickname was actually "picklock" Chin!

His joviality, congeniality and hard-working nature carried through into medical school at UWI, and even though we knew that he had a chronic ailment that could take him home at any time, it is still so sad to see him go so young. A great Fortis has gone - may he rest in peace.

Professor Escoffery is currently overseas in Miami until next week, and so expresses his regret for his absence here today, but sends his condolences to Aston's family and friends.

Dr. Robert Buddan, of the Department of Government at the UWI and who regularly writes very poignant columns on the Jamaican political scene in the Sunday Gleaner, recalls the days in first and second forms at Melbourne – the junior campus of Kingston College. Initially, Melbourne was only for first formers, and so after completing first form, when members of his class expected to have moved to the North Street campus to mix and intermingle with the then heroes of Manning Cup Football, Sunlight Cup Cricket, Boys Champs and the rest of the winning teams of Kingston College at North Street, they heard – much to their disappointment – that the Melbourne campus was being expanded to accommodate both first and second form students. Consequently, both Aston and himself missed the opportunity to intermingle with members of those all conquering teams. They however made the best of it by considering themselves as the senior boys at the Melbourne campus, expecting respect from the newcomers in first form. On behalf of his classmates, Dr. Buddan wishes Aston peace.

My brother – Paul Aarons – another of Aston's classmates at KC, who currently resides in Atlanta, is particularly thankful that, on his visit last Christmas to Jamaica – I took him to visit with Aston, whom he had not seen since they graduated together from 6th form in 1973. Paul wrote that Aston's passing really hurt him so much more as he remembered the good times they spent in upper 6th form as they did the same classes there and had their breaks at the same time and would clown together.

Captain Barrington Miller, who like myself served with Aston in the Kingston College Cadet Force, described his sadness on hearing of Aston's passing, as he did not know Aston was ailing. He reiterated Aston's kindness when Aston was approached as a past cadet of the school to help rebuild the Cadet Force in 1999, and Aston donated generously to the effort. Although he may be gone, Barry says, Aston will never be forgotten, and may his soul rest in peace and light perpetually shine upon him.

Time does not allow me to describe my own personal interactions with Aston – at KC in the Cadet Force, as founding members of the first Rifle Club ever formed at KC, as representatives of the school in competition – being members of the KC Rifle Club team, or as medical doctors in Ocho Rios. We were invaluable resource persons for each other, sharing the knowledge of how best to burnish our cadet boots to produce the best shine, his succeeding me as the Company QuarterMaster Sergeant for the KC Cadet Force, our discussing how best to breathe while aiming to consistently get a "bullseye" on the target in competition and never getting a "magpie", or invariably conferring when we saw unusual or rare medical presentations in patients. Sometimes we would telephone each other while at work to refresh our memories about any unusual features we were taught at the university regarding these rare medical conditions. And even when Aston scaled back on his medical practice in Ocho Rios to concentrate on the business side of his endeavours, he steadfastly did his continuing medical education each year and maintained his annual certification with the Medical Council to practice medicine in Jamaica.

It is sufficing to say that Aston was the quintessential modest, unassuming human being, a person not interested to publicly display his many accomplishments in life or the journey he took to get there. Whether it be Aston the father, Aston the husband, Aston the business operator, Aston the doctor, or Aston the epitome of self-discipline, meticulousness and always striving to perfection – Aston was always cool, calm, and reticent of any grandeur or self-aggrandisement. Hard work, honesty and virtue were his hallmarks. To us who knew him well, grew up with him, and greatly respected him, he was the ultimate friend with all the attributes of what friendship should be about.

And so – as several other tributes came in over the past week and a half which time does not allow expression for, we can however say that fellow classmate Denzil "Pepsi" Kettle, in New York for the past 20 years, fellow medical doctor Ivor Nugent working in Florida, Professor Rainford Wilks – Professor of Epidemiology at the UWI, Dr. Kenneth Vaughan, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the UWI, Kenneth DaCosta, President of the KC Old Boys Association, Dr. Ray Fraser – Chairman of the KC Old Boys Assn, and Winston Stewart – Head Boy of Kingston College for Aston's graduating class – who currently lives in Atlanta and who visited with Aston at Shopper's Mart in Ocho Rios each time he visited Jamaica and came to see his sister in Ocho Rios (Mrs. Joan Walter, the Manager of Victoria Mutual there) – all sent to express their heartfelt condolences to Aston's beloved family. I end this tribute by adding my own reminder to you all of the KC school motto that Dr. Aston Chin lived by – Fortis cadere cedere non potest – The brave may fall but never yield! Fortis forever our friend Aston – you will always be a part of us.

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