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Doc Kirby a blessing to SVG

Doc Kirby a blessing to SVG

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by Morrison Baisden

Every once in a while God sends to us an extraordinary person/spirit. Those like me who live more mundane lives, marvel at the number of things they are able to do and do so very well in the limited time they spend with us.

Earle Kirby was such a person/spirit. He came amongst us through well known families, the Kirbys and Breretons and was deeply influenced by his grandmother Ms. Burton. The boy was always running errands for his grandmother, and any older person in Frenches who asked. In those days a little boy didn’t say no to his elders. But it seems that he ran other than on errands.{{more}}

His first encounter with the law took the form of running up to a pair of trousered legs and hearing a thunderous voice asking “and where are you running to?” Corporal Bramble accepted the explanation “to school, sir.”

Earle ran through Miss Forde’s School, Wesley Hall School, the Intermediate School and the Boys Grammar School and on to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA). There he was to meet and be impressed by outstanding teachers of geology, entomology, teachers like Professor Hardy, whom he never forgot. He went on to the University of Ontario at Guelph in Canada, a slim young man with a big voice who set records of excellence spoken of by his surviving peers to this day. He went on to the University of Edinburg and later to Denmark.

But what of the man, his attitude, his philosophy. Doc once said to me, “learned people are humble, they are humbled by how little they know and how much more there is to discover. It is the forty-nine-percenters who are boastful.”

He married Monica King a fine Barbadian lass and together they raised two children, Ashley a professional agriculturist and trained musician who is experimenting with pan the technologies of this new instrument. Melanie his daughter, took to medicine, specialized in pediatrics and further specialized in pediatric oncology. She is married to Upton Allen, an outstanding pediatrician doing research work in HIV/AIDS in children. They have a daughter and two sons.

Earle Kirby was an avid reader and researcher, always conscious of how much more there was to find out and how important it was not to waste time. There are those who say he should have been a mechanic. Others claim he should have been entomologist, an historian, an archaeologist…..

The truth is, he was all of these and more but I only found out very gradually as I noted the respect with which professionals in these fields regarded him. Yet if you had a few moments you may have seen him sitting on the steps of the old Public Library explaining something to a child, a student, an adult. He told his truths quietly and simply. To the uninitiated this spoke of a lack of knowledge, to those who knew better, a quiet wisdom.

Will there be a vacuum created with his passing? Maybe, but I don’t think so. You see, Dr. Kirby was always eager to pass on the knowledge he had acquired and he did so to whomever showed an interest. There are, as a result, many persons in and out of St. Vincent with whom he has shared his knowledge. In addition he has written several papers, produced several booklets, co-authored with C.I. Martin the history of the Black Caribs. He was always concerned, that what he learned was passed on.

Will he be missed? Definitely! He will be missed for his vast knowledge; but I will miss him for his quietly given advice, for his frankness when others had no comment, for his love and concern for people – especially the poor, for his love of nature and his deep concern for the destruction of the forests. Destroy nature he said, and you will have destroyed yourself; continue to heat up the air around the planet, and fill it with noxious gases and our species – mankind – will be history. Doc was concerned about life, all aspects of life. He walked through life humbly but determined to understand and make better whatever he touched. Life is eternal. May he continue to make a positive difference wherever he is.

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