March 2022 Volume 18

Garfield Hall (1960 to 2022)– Early Memories

Dr. Stephen Vasciannie
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Garfield Anthony Hall, a dedicated KC Old Boy, passed away on January 31, 2022. Garfield attended KC from 1971 to 1979. He resided in New York in his latter years. Throughout his life he was a vigorous supporter of Kingston College, following in the footsteps of his father, Stanley Hall. At the celebration of Garfield’s life, on February 12, 2022, at Mount Olivet Church, Mount Vernon, New York, various tributes recalling Garfield’s life and times were offered. The following was presented on behalf of Stephen Vasciannie, a close friend, confidant and contemporary of Garfield.

I still remember when I first met Garfield Hall, my Fortisan brother. He had just joined Mrs. Campbell's Grade 2A class at Saint Richard's Primary School, Kingston, Jamaica, in 1968. Patrick Halsall, a mutual friend, knew Garfield, and in response to Garfield’s request, he introduced Garfield to our group of eight-year-old boys from that class. If you think this was a mature scene for eight-year-olds, it certainly was. Normally, boys just met each other on the playfield or in the schoolyard, but Garfield even at that youthful age had a sense of propriety -- he knew the right way to do things. Or as Jamaicans would sometimes say Garfield was a “mannersable” youth.

Following our first meeting, Garfield and I became instant friends. We would often walk home in a group from St. Richard’s, with Garfield turning off the Red Hills Road to his home in Valentine Gardens (near Purity Bakery) and with others heading on mainly to Molynes Road, Meadowbrook and Havendale. Even from our earliest days, Garfield towered over us all (as noted by classmate Bruce Polson recently), but he was always gentle, soft-spoken and given to careful analysis of situations. His maturity was instinctive. We visited each other. Sometimes, when we played table tennis, I would hit the ball wildly away, attempting the dramatic smash. I would then say “sorry”; to this, Garfield would always smile and respond in an avuncular tone, “yes, you should be”.

The College

When we did the dreaded Common Entrance Examination in 1971, a team from Saint Richard's, including Garfield, “Stumbo” Hylton and Richie Dyche, headed for Kingston College (KC). And at the College, Garfield settled in quickly, making friends, pursuing academic and extracurricular activities, and sharing stories of exploits beyond the classrooms of Melbourne Park and Clovelly. Garfield was unfailingly thoughtful and courteous, generous and perceptive.

In the early KC days, many afternoons were spent at “Tastee’s” in Cross Roads, moving efficiently through parties, sharing observations about the politics of “Joshua” Manley, and people-watching (with special reference to young ladies from St. Hugh’s High and Alpha Academy). Garfield's kindness would often lead him quietly to share his lunch money with other boys.

He was efficient and calm in times of special need. In one incident, which arose in downtown Kingston in about 1975, a boy was injured by a bus as a crowd rushed forward against the bus. Garfield reacted quickly and assuredly in the circumstances. Sprinting like Donald Quarrie at the Montreal Olympics, Garfield urgently summoned a familiar driver, and arranged for the victim to be rushed for treatment at the Kingston Public Hospital. The victim has remained eternally grateful to Garfield.

Tennis Champs

In the sporting arena at Kingston College, Garfield became one of the leading tennis players at school. By the 1970s, K.C. had developed a tradition of steady above average performance in tennis, but we tended to stumble in the face of the tennis teams of our North Street rivals, Saint George’s College. But Garfield and his teammates put an end to Georgian dominance. In 1977, KC -- with inspired leadership from Garfield and others -- was victorious.

This was for the first time in at least 10 years. There was much pride within the ranks and in the school hierarchy. Garfield's most joyous moment at school may thus have been when he collected the tennis trophy for national schoolboy supremacy in the name of Kingston College, the school he loved so much.

Values

Garfield's father -- Stanley Hall -- paid careful attention to the overall fortunes of Kingston College. On one occasion, he noted that the senior boys and Old Boys could not realistically expect KC to win various sporting and academic prizes if we did not put in the behind-the-scenes organizational efforts necessary for success. Not surprisingly, Garfield followed his father's wise commentary. In his post-Kingston College years, Garfield became a major contributor in effort, expertise, time and finances, to the school's track and field programme.

More generally, Garfield’s love for his Jamaican alma mater was limitless, as was his dedication to the idea that education is a vital route for self-improvement and social mobility for persons from all walks of life. He embraced friendship, was loyal to a fault, and suffered the slings and arrows of fortune with dignity and sound judgement. His adherence to these values transcended time and space -- from the 1970s to his final days, from North Street to New York, Garfield shared, gave and contributed to the welfare of his community. Thank you, “Big Field”.

Fortis Man

I will remember my St. Richard’s/KC brother Garfield with love and respect. He has fought the valiant fight and brought happiness and good guidance to many. When last we met – at a KC Old Boys’ Dinner in Queen’s, New York -- he was in sparkling form, full of his usual wit and insight. He offered stories about the old days which prompted laughter and happy tears. We reminisced and laughed till we cried.

Goodbye Garfield: we cry sad tears today, but you will remain in our hearts as a sincere, generous and committed brother. Rest in peace, Fortis Man.

- Stephen Vasciannie

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