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Doc Kirby was a friend

Doc Kirby was a friend

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Dr. EarlE Kirby was an agriculturist, a veterinarian, a field naturalist…. Outstanding in these fields, he was an entomologist, archaeologist, historian with original work in these, he was a mechanic, science educator, volcanologist. He was a friend.

A friend of the hospital when orthopaedic tools needed sharpening, when autoclaves failed, when skin-grafting tools stopped working, when the large stove in the kitchen was out of use because the pilot did not work and staff singed the hairs on their forearms trying to light it. This friend fixed all these and other bits and pieces.{{more}}

Doc was a friend of the printery getting the Heidelberg press working after it had lain idle for many months. He was a friend of history students being a virtual source of information on local history; a friend of science students working with their teachers to make up physics equipment, finding botany and zoology specimens, teaching when regular teachers were absent.

He was a friend of graduate students local and foreign and through them has expanded the available information on St. Vincent’s demography, geology, geography, the island’s birds, bats, lizards and snakes.

He was a friend of researchers looking into the Black Caribs, a point of contact for Garifuna intellectuals and homecomers.

He was a friend of the church – the Anglican church – when large trees threatened the tombstones and the church itself, he pulled together a team of the willing and employing his engineering skills, his climbing skills, his strengths, Doc rigged block and tackle, cut and carefully lowered large branches and logs to the ground till the church yard was clear with the tombs and enclosures intact.

Doc was long an advocate for the protection of national monuments and the churches were foremost among these, this friendship has as yet borne little fruit since the nation and himself have not yet agreed. He had a keen interest in the churches, in their pipe organs, bells and chandeliers and in the priests who made the churches live. He was to his death a good friend of Archbishop Cuthbert Woodroffe, one of his contemporaries.

His interest in the preservation of national monuments extended beyond the churches, to the Court House, the Police barracks and several other structures of historical moment. Great was his disappointment at being unable – so far – to interest the public or private sector in preserving the tiny Curator’s House in the Botanic Gardens.

Doc was a friend of the people, when Pusinelle declared that he should improve his salary through private practice, he laughed, how was the struggling farmer to pay him to see his sick animal? “I am not that heartless.”

He was respected by intellectuals but he was loved by the “people” with whom he came in contact.

He was the friend of the child who didn’t have exercise books or pencils, the child from Richmond Hill or Sandy Bay. He was the friend of the child who was hungry or sick in a remote village, the fiend of the nurse without medical supplies.

Doctor Kirby lived the life of an enlightened person, humble, knowledgeable, kind. Despised by many who could not understand that one man could be competent in so many areas. Loved by children, appreciated by those with whom he swapped ideas. Men like Mutt in Paul’s Lot, who also made great mauby, and Miss Jackson uptown where he sometimes got a mid-morning snack, Horace Lewis in technical education, Ira Young of Val-U, Clem Iton, Oz Veira, Bassy Alexander.

Doc was “out of circulation” for almost three years, “off his feet,” “confined to bed.” Now his spirit soars again free of the limitations of the body perhaps we will meet again in the eternity of life.

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