March 2013 Volume 10

Peter Maxwell passes on

Dr. Cedric Lazarus
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Peter Maxwell died in Kingston in January this year and the service for the celebration of his life was held in KC’s St Augustine Chapel on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

 The records will show that he attended KC for 10 years – three of which were spent at the KC Prep School and seven at the high school, a claim that only a lucky few could boast

As a student Peter was one of those youngsters who took part in numerous extracurricular activities; he was a member of the choir, the cadet corps and the drama club and he often described himself as the chief cheer leader for KC’s sports teams in the 1950s. The story is told that one year while carrying the KC flag on the way to Champs he tipped a policeman’s cap and nearly got himself in trouble with the principal. In 1957, his final year at KC, he was headboy. That was a special year in which the brilliant Lloyd Demetrius won the Jamaican Scholarship and KC won both the Manning Cup and the Champs trophy.

Such was Peter’s love for KC that after leaving university he returned to North Street as a teacher of English – joining a department that already had several outstanding stalwarts, including Mrs. Beulah Reid, Mrs. M. Riley, Ms J. Reid, and Mrs. B. Urquhart. As a teacher he was a mentor and father figure to scores of boys and inculcated in many a lasting love for literature, especially West Indian literature.

He was an influential figure at North Street and engaged and encouraged boys to become good and responsible citizens and to participate in all aspects of school life and extra-curricular activities. With books from his personal library, he formed an after-school book club with third and fourth formers as members; each member had one week to read a book and then he would be given ten or fifteen minutes to critique it or to deliver a verbal report to the other members of the club.

Due to health reasons he left KC after about a decade for the cooler climate of Mandeville where he taught at Manchester High for several years in the 1980s. He eventually returned to Kingston and continued his teaching career at both UWI and Shortwood Teachers’ College. By all indications his impact on the young teachers in training at Shortwood was immense and to this day his name is mentioned in awe, not only by those who learnt at his feet at Shortwood but also by his colleagues and fellow lecturers.    

Some of the many tributes that were read at Peter’s funeral service are included in this edition of the KC Times.  All emphasized the tremendous impact that Peter had on others and his deep love and appreciation for English language and literature. The service in the Chapel was one with a difference; it was celebratory rather than mournful and filled with moving renditions, including passages from Shakespeare, songs by Peter Tosh, Tom Jones and Nat ‘King’ Cole, recordings from the KC Choir and musical selections by Dr. Winston ‘Winty’ Davidson.   

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