May 2020 Volume 16

Dr. Wayne Fraser: A Quiet Force Behind the KCOBA Florida Chapter

Everton Bailey
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Dr. Wayne Fraser, a founding member of the KCOBA Florida Chapter, is an integral of the organization and his steady, thoughtful, and prudent leadership is at the heart of much of the success that the Florida Chapter has enjoyed over the last two decades.

Born in Mandeville, Manchester, where he and his two brothers, Ray and Ricardo, grew up, he is the eldest child of Ivey and Ivan Fraser. He later moved to Kingston and lived in the Rockfort area, where he took two buses to Jones Town Primary. In 1964, he secured a place at Kingston College via a transfer after spending a term at Camperdown.

“My experience at KC was overwhelming”, he recalls. “I was good friends with my peers and had a good relationship with Doug Forest (former teacher and headmaster) and Cecil Bruce (former teacher and vice-principal), and Mr. Bruce had faith in me and transferred me from 1F to 1A, and I did well academically and remained in the “A” stream throughout my time at KC.

“I gravitated towards the sciences from an early age as my mother had books at home, including books on home health care. I also wanted to help people I saw who were sick, and I admired medical professionals. I had great teachers at KC including Ms. Serrant who taught General Sciences and Mr. Walker (former Wolmers’ Headmaster after whom the high school football Walker Cup knock out competition is named) who taught Maths, and I passed “O” level Maths in 4th form”, he says.

“KC won everything during my time; it was the Golden Years, and I was an avid fan. Several of my classmates excelled athletically including Michael Holding, Howard Bell, and Ralston Bloomfield. We also had at around 9 doctors from my graduating class of 1971: Warren Blake, Derrick Aarons, Paul Smith, Howard Minott, Selbourne Goode, Rainford Wilks, Dr. Clifton Smith, Robert Vassell, which I believe has never by accomplished before or after. Anthony Brown, Michael Lawrence, Lorenzo Dryden, Desmond Pearson, Dennis Cunningham, Derrick Foster (my close friend and a long-time horse race many), Michael Chin, Patrick Vernon, the Johnson brothers, Henry Dean, and Lewie Ruddok are other classmates I remember vividly. I remain friends with many of these men up to this day and hold them in high regard.”

After graduating from KC in 1971, Wayne enrolled at the University of the West Indies (“UWI”) in the Natural Sciences Department and later transferred to Medicine. “Several of my colleagues at KC were with me at UWI such as Rainford Wilks and Carlos Escoffrey, and they were role models who influenced me. Upon graduating in 1971, Wayne worked at the Spanish Town Hospital and Jubilee Hospital before starting a private practice in Lionel Town.

In 1988, he migrated to the United States in order to broaden his scope and to avoid becoming too insular in his field. He did his residency at Jackson Memorial University of Miami Hospital between 1988-1991, and worked with the Broward County Public Health Department from 1991-1995 before launching his private family practice in Lauderhill in 1995.

“It is very gratifying when you take care of people and they respond to the treatment and get good outcomes, and they appreciate it”, he says.

“In April 1998, Churchill Neita, Bruce Rickards, Stratton Palmer and a few other KCOBs came up from Jamaica and met with us at Audley Hewitt’s office and encouraged us to start some fund­ raising activities in South Florida. We quickly formed a 501(c) 3 (tax exempt charity) entity and had our first session in October 1998 with Merritone”, he recalls.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

From its humble beginnings in 1998, the event has mushroomed into a colossal social extravaganza called the Big Purple Session, which is the largest single event fundraiser for KC world-wide. The brainchild of a committed and visionary group including the legendary Audley Hewett, Horace Minott, Michael Malcolm, Leighton Dawes, and Audley Patterson, among others, the event quickly outgrew its original venue, the Walter C. Young High School in Pembroke Pines, and even the spacious Miramar Cultural Center, and has now been held at Temple Beth Emet in Cooper City for the last few years.

“People may wonder how we function, but at the end of the day it works. We simply do KC’s work without bureaucracy”, he states, commenting on the informal nature of the meetings and the use of steering committees to implement tasks. Instead, the organization functions as a group of equals where each member’s opinion is welcomed, respected and valued. “Each man has a say and we do things without much fanfare and we enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie”, says Wayne, which is the same sentiment expressed by KCOB Stratton Palmer: “South Florida does things without fanfare.”

“I have not missed a single Big Purple Session since its inception, even though it conflicts with my son’s birthday. Although we [the KCOBA Florida Chapter] have had challenges, we have weathered the storm and continue to thrive. Our agenda is simple: Do as much as we can to raise as much money for KC. It’s all about KC; KC is bigger than us,” he says.

“Wayne is dedicated to his profession but his love for KC allows him to find time to work for KC”, says Audley Hewett, who has worked alongside Wayne over the inception of the Florida Chapter. Indeed, the group’s monthly meetings are held at Dr. Fraser’s office the last Saturday of each month, and it is not unusual for KCOBs to hang out late into the night after the meeting reminiscing and enjoying the gathering.

The KCOBA Florida Chapter is grateful for the vision and selfless, tireless work that Dr. Wayne Fraser has performed, and continue to perform, on behalf of the organization and, by extension, Kingston College. This humble, generous man, with a gentle spirit has been a godsend not just to the KCOBA, but to the broader South Florida community, and we are truly blessed to have him.

Wayne resides in Palm Beach County and enjoys spending time with son, Jeffrey, an attorney, and his family including his two grandchildren, Ava and Sean.

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