January 2024 Volume 20

Tribute to Professor Winston George Mendes Davidson

Stratton Palmer
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Winston George Mendes Davidson has been an exemplar of the highest quality throughout his years at Kingston College. He satisfied all the ideals of the founding fathers: the desire to learn, to have a sound education, the building of character, the quality of dedication and faithfulness, full religious application, and the adherence of and to the school’s second motto, “mens sana incorpore sano’ - a sound mind in a healthy body.

In short, he was a well-rounded individual, a man well prepared to take on the world and oh, how he did!

Like all of us, he would meet up on obstacles, man-made ones, but would brush them aside with his unyielding spirit and the never say die attitude of ‘do not die before you are dead’.

He was that Fortis man who lived and breathed the school’s motto “Fortis cadere cedere non potest” – “The brave may fall but never yield.”

He was aware of the possibility of failure but never had a relationship with it; for him it was success after success. One just has to look at his shining resumé and achievements as a scholar, that has already been told. He was a famous and important member of the Kingston College Chapel Choir along with the likes of Keith “Fuzzy” Byfield, Ralph Holding and Ed Wallace among others who set the tone for the choir. He sang all the voice parts in the choir, from treble to bass and after leaving school featured as a soloist as an accomplished basso profundo.

He has one bad mark against him. As I recall, myself, Howard Clayton and Sam McFarlane were the favourites to sing the solo in the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City on the 1963 Choir Album which was being recorded in the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town when suddenly, the selection panel of Barry Davies and Douglas Forrest called up the ageing alto, Winty Davidson, to do the solo because of the power of his voice. My hopes of stardom had been dashed.

Winty then moved on as a footballer, to the surprise of many; first with the 1963 Walker Cup Team and then as the left back on what is arguably the best Manning Cup, nay Schoolboy Side of all times, notwithstanding current idolatries. Yet he himself has stated that the 1965 team was better. I forgive him because by this time he was on his course of study at the UWI, Mona and did not see all their matches.

In the modern interpretation of football, that team was ahead of its time as Winty was a left back who stayed at home, allowing Franklyn Morant, who was one of the centre halves to roam, almost like a libero which caused many to think that he was a left half given the freedom to roam or a modern-day central midfielder commonly called a central defensive midfielder. Winty’s role was critical, and he seldom made a mistake, he was the hallmark of efficiency as in all things that he did.

In his academic and professional life, I will not bore you with his story as that is well documented, only to mention that he was the renowned local Public Health Specialist. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1971 and at the same time he was successful in the American Examination for foreign graduates and therefore could have practiced in the USA but preferred to contribute to his country by practicing in Jamaica.

The trumpet sounded for him, and he remained in Jamaica and entered politics where he became Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health in the late 1970’s at a time when the country was encountering choppy seas.

But it was telemedicine which gave him further oxygen and he would speak to anyone he could about its benefits and possibilities.

With all his many hats, responsibilities, and contributions, it took a long time for Ruddy Wallace to coerce or even cajole him to become more active in the Kingston College Old Boys’ Association. He finally wilted under the pressure and became President of the KCOBA around 1984, serving over a decade.

It was the right time for his kind of leadership as forces were attempting to change what some called the culture of Kingston College, with the strange belief that the Old Boys were or attempting to run the school and frankly it was a belief throughout the country and if truth be told throughout the Diocese.

The push back by the Old Boys was that if you come to court, you should come with clean hands, and all was not well in the State of Denmark.

And so, a lot of grievances were unearthed and there was a great rush to bring it to the surface. But the President, in his wisdom and to his credit always said, “Bring me the evidence.” He was always evidence driven, the scientific mind that he was, taking the logical course to its conclusion, with his famous saying, “and so therefore.” It was a sensible approach to a battle that could have been lost.

For the records, we need to remember that the Kingston College Old Boys Association was launched on September 8, 1933, on the suggestion of the Headmaster, Rev. Percival Gibson and the aim was “For the social, intellectual and moral advancement of all who have passed through the noble portals of Kingston College.” The first Treasurer was the Rev. Percival Gibson, Headmaster and therefore the Association was always meant to be an integral and critical conduit between the School’s Management Team and the Old Boys.

We would like to thank Dr. Sonia and daughters for having us invading their home as Winty took our monthly meetings home. They had to withstand our sometimes raucous but civil behavior fueled by alcoholic exuberance late into the night and early morning after the business discussion had been concluded.

The Association was made better because of his stewardship, and he had to contend with the rigorous debating skills and checks and balances of Ruddy Wallace and his brother Ed that oftentimes you wondered whether they were such great friends! But it was all in the interest of the Association and its purity, integrity, and correctness. One remembers the contribution of Earle Spencer, K. Churchill Neita, and the late Lanny Walters, Gresford Jones, and ‘Mr. Principle’, Chester Burgess.

Credit also goes to Winty as part of the brains trust behind the establishing of the Trust Fund.

Professor Winston Davidson’s contribution to the Association ensured that he and friend Ruddy Wallace were inducted as Life Members of the KCOBA.

As I remember Professor Winston Davidson, I marvel on his influence on me, conscious or not, as we both went to the Rollington Town Primary School, Kingston College, were influential members of the Kingston College Chapel Choir, played on winning Manning Cup Teams and served as Presidents of the KCOBA each for ten (10) year periods.

I thank him for the impact and influence he had on me and many others in a life full of service to his fellowman, in his love of school and guidance to the Association, his impact and dynamism and for being the good soul that he was.

All hail Winston George Mendes Davidson as we join to say, “Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest.”

November 29, 2023

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