September 2016 Volume 13

Tribute to Richard Forbes, RHD, Pardy, Bombshell

Dr. Hugh Vaughan
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I met Richard as a schoolmate at Kingston College when he joined our class in 3A.   He was a typical KC student interested in girls, cars, sports, everything else but schoolwork.

At school Richard was fun loving and like all KC boys, mischievous. Richard’s special interest was gadgets.  These ranged from portable transistor radios to radio stations.  This led to him tinkering with things, and to the formation of Phase 3 Disco as a hobby, providing music at parties.

On leaving school Richard worked as a customs officer.  Later Phase 3 became a popular professional disco.   When video became popular with the VHS format, Richard transformed Phase 3 into a primarily video company leaving the disco behind.  His penchant for gadgetry led to Phase 3 becoming the most technological video company in Jamaica having the very latest video devices available.

The company was noted for its advanced equipment with many overseas video companies expressing open surprise at the sophistication of the equipment, which Phase 3 was using.  Richard even designed the configuration of the mobile video vans, placing on the trucks equipment which the manufacturer of the vans said could not be done.

After leaving school I did not see Richard much until a little student nurse named Marcia, came to work on Ward 18 where I was doing residency training in ophthalmology.  It was then I found out that this lady was special to Richard, and later to become his wife, life partner and mother of his child Delano.

Much later in life when Richard began having visual problems, due to his diabetes, I met up with him again.  He was under the care of another doctor, and when his diabetes eye damage became uncontrollable, I became professionally involved with Richard as he became my patient.  His diabetic eye disease was very aggressive, and required extensive laser surgery and vitrectomies to try to keep his sight.

Pardy called everybody “Pardy,” it meant partner an indication of Richard’s sharing attitude.  Richard was a resilient person.  When his relentless loss of vision worsened, I remember his attitude as characterized by his remark.  He said words to the effect, “Pardy things bad but it could have been worse, this morning a TV news anchor shared with me the fact that he had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and did not have much longer to live.”  The news anchor died a few months later. 

His work in video earned Phase 3 a Fulbright fellowship and Richard, selfless to the end told me that he would make another family member take up the fellowship, as he might not have the sight to be of service to Phase 3 if he lost his sight. His wife took up that fellowship to formally study radio and television.   Later his son went to university to study video and television.  A family man and a family business all the way.

Pardy’s resilience was further demonstrated in his response to the fire that burnt phase 3 to the ground.  The night of the fire my wife and I went to his place of business.  To our relief, Pardy was safe.  He had been upstairs when the fire spread from the next-door warehouse into theirs.  An employee was with him upstairs and that employee on seeing the fire fled from the building leaving Richard to find his way out without the assistance that this sighted employee could have provided.   Despite this Pardy kept the employee on.  This amply demonstrates Richard’s generous spirit as he understood the employee’s panic reaction. 

When the business was rebuilt Pardy again demonstrated his indomitable spirit when at the reopening, he said.  “Friends, I thank you for the empathy, but what I need is work, so give us work so we can build ourselves up again.” 

He rebuilt the business bigger than before until it became the leading video production company in Jamaica. His health challenges continued with renal failure and dialysis intervening. 

Richard’s funeral was a tribute to his life.  He had two former Prime Ministers and the sitting Prime Minister giving tributes.   At least four cabinet members were in attendance. 

RIP Richard, RHD, Bombshell, Pardy, Fortis forever.

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