Glowing tribute paid to late Barbados cricketer Horace King by brother Michael

Bridgetown, Barbados, November 26 - ( - Following is a tribute to the life of the late Barbados left-arm spin bowler Horace King by his brother, Michael King, at his funeral service on Wednesday, November 23 at St. Stephen's Anglican Church.

HORACE ARLINGTON KING was a Special Son, Special Husband, Special Father, Special Son-in-Law, Special Brother, Special Uncle, Special Cousin, Special Brother-in-Law, Special Mentor, Special Friend and Special Colleague.

It would be an understatement to say that Barbados is better off because of the contribution of my eldest brother, who was the fourth child of the 14 children (seven boys and seven girls) of the late Horace Arlington King (I) and Leotta Frederica King.

The first three years of his life were spent at Spooners Hill, before our parents moved permanently to “Horace Ville”, Green Hill in 1931.

It was in Green Hill that his life, and indeed the lives of his siblings were fashioned by visionary parents who believed in providing a quality education for their children.

For Horace, Buxton Boys’ School, that little school on the hill in Green Hill, a few yards from home, was the foundation for the acquisition of knowledge that Horace pursued throughout his life.

Our parents held the view that their children should be ready to enter secondary school by age nine!

With the help of the late Reverend Frank Barker, who began his teaching career at Buxton, Horace and his older sisters received extra-tuition that was structured to fulfill that goal.

Combermere School welcomed him at age nine and nourished his intellectual curiosity until he left on his 16th birthday to enter the Maths Sixth Form at Harrison College. At Combermere, among his classmates was his longtime friend George Lamming.

His early skills as a cricketer were developed by an older friend and colleague Frankie Worrell and Mr. Stanton Gittens, who later moved over to Harrison College, where Horace emerged as a crafty bowler. He was among a group of scholar athletes who went on to serve Barbados and the Caribbean with distinction (e.g. Oliver Browne, Bertie Callender, George Griffith, and the late Albert Williams, Sir Denys Williams, and Dover Wilson).

He toured British Guiana in 1946 with the first ever Barbados Schoolboys Team, captained by Albert Williams. Apart from his several Harrisonian colleagues, the team also included from The Lodge School, Sam Headley, the late Roy Marshall and Torrey Pilgrim.

Among their opponents were Bruce Pairaudeau who went on to play for the West Indies, and his good friend, the late Fred Wills, former Attorney General of Guyana. In January 1949 he was selected to represent Barbados vs Trinidad at the First-Class level after several outstanding seasons for Harrison College.

Harrison College had prepared him for rigorous academic pursuits. It also prepared him for leadership roles in his lifetime. Jobs were not easy to obtain in post-World War II – Barbados but Horace took the opportunity to start a tutorial programme to prepare students for the School Certificate Exams. Among his students were the late Othneil Watson who went on to be the Treasurer of the Bahamas; the late Permanent Secretary, Grey Forde; the late Carey Thompson who became a leading tax expert on Tax Policy within the Caribbean Community.

He later became a longtime tutor and mentor of Elombe and Elliot Mottley.

Horace entered the Civil Service with the first large cohort of clerical officers in August 1949 and worked briefly at the Barbados General Hospital, H.M. Customs (1949 – 51). He served in the Ministry of Education as an Accounts Officer from 1951 – 1956, when he left Barbados to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a Land Surveyor. He cherished the experience of working with the late Fred Cozier in several areas that transformed the educational system to the benefit of working class Barbadians.

He decided to retire as a First-Class cricketer in 1953 after representing Barbados against the Indian Touring Team. Incidentally, his third and last game for Barbados was also the debut game for the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers. It was also the last game for the island team for the late Roy Marshall, that dashing opening batsman who had a wonderful career at Hampshire, in the English County Competition. Unfortunately Roy’s service to the West Indies came to a premature end due to draconian rules imposed by the MCC and the ICC, which stated that once you played English County Cricket, you could not represent your country in Test Cricket for another ten years.

He cherished those brief moments and the several years at Empire Club with the likes of Sir Everton Weekes, the late Sir Conrad Hunte, the late Charles Alleyne; our late brother-in-law Hughley Barker. Rawle Brancker reminded me last week that Horace taught him how to bowl and how to outfox batsmen.

Life in England and at South West Essex Technical College (1956–1960) was an unforgettable educational experience. Horace, and colleagues David Trotman (his roommate) and the late Mike Rice, were the first Barbadians to qualify as Land Surveyors in the UK. He played cricket for the College and fancied himself as a batsman. Indeed, Essex County Cricket Team, through Doug Insole and the late Trevor Bailey, tried to sign him for the play for the County. They actually thought that he was good enough to play as a batsman ! He had to remind them that he was a bowler and a tail-end batsman.

He later returned to do Post-Graduate work from 1968 – 1970 where he obtained Surveyors his Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Chartered at his alma mater which has transitioned into Waltham Forest College, North East London Polytechnic and is known today as the University of East London.

They brought back new technology to Barbados in the area of surveying and were always willing to share their knowledge and contacts with other Barbadians.

As a quiet revolutionary, he retuned to Barbados and the Public Service in July 1960, only to discover that the remuneration received by Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors was much less than that received by University graduates.

Horace fought a long battle with the Public Service Commission and advised the then Chairman and members, UP FRONT that he intended to do private work on weekends and holidays since he did not wish to abandon the Public Service to seek more lucrative opportunities in the Private Sector. You may wish to be aware that he had turned down opportunities to teach Land Surveying at his alma mater, and to work in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Ghana and Jamaica. Ironically the third private job he did was on behalf of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission! By 1972, a decision was taken to allow public officers to engage in private professional activities once there was no area of conflict.

He also wanted to make a significant contribution to the tertiary education of his younger siblings; such assistance was an expression of gratitude to our father who raised and educated his 14 children, ran his own business, and never once borrowed a penny from any bank in Barbados!!!

Such independence was inculcated in all of us and Horace remained the Captain of the Family Ship that guided us towards meaningful careers and the pursuit of independence. The family mantra remains to this day: “Put yourself in the position that you do not have to beg anyone for a job!”

Horace was especially proud to have played a meaningful role in the development of the Department of Lands and Surveys and the establishment of the Land Registry which was a project supported by the late Right Excellent Errol Barrow and encouraged by the late Sir Roy Marshall; Sir Henry Forde and the late Sir Harold St. John.

He actually served as Project Manager for three years and ensured that Barbados utilized the expertise of Sir Roy who was a global authority on Land Law.

Horace also conceptualized and developed the Land Surveying Programme at the Barbados Community College and took time from his busy schedule to teach several courses.

He took early retirement from the Public Service in 1982 and expanded his private practice, and interfaced more with his colleagues who considered him “the Dean of Land Surveying” in Barbados.

Horace was introduced to the Rotary Club of Barbados by Charter President, Sir Theodore Brancker who was then the President of the Empire Club; he was inducted to the club on October 31st, 1963 by President Stanley Chapman. In 1964, he and his fiancée Emsie became actively involved with the Club in the establishment of the Challenor School for Challenged Children. His favourite avenue of service was Community Service where he had the privilege of working with persons with intellectual and physical challenges, children and youth from our local children’s homes, and the elderly. Incidentally, his and Emsie’s work with intellectually challenged persons began in 1964, quite some time before the birth of their own special daughter, Linda, in 1969.

Family was paramount in Horace’s life and so on August 4th 1966, he married Emsie, his longtime family friend and love of his life, right here at St. Stephen’s. They, too, would have had much to celebrate in this year of their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Together, Horace and Emsie, and their children, worked tirelessly at the community level, through their beloved St. Stephen’s Church, the Rotary Club of Barbados, Special Olympics Barbados and the various organisations and institutions which contributed to the development of special needs persons across Barbados. They shared the view that it was important to serve the community as a family.

Many of you may remember the numerous dinners and tea parties that were hosted at their property at Wanstead Gardens, to raise funds for the work of this St. Stephen’s Church. Similarly, fund raising events were hosted to assist with the establishment of the Barbados Association of Parents of the Handicapped, among others.

When the late Ilene Murray-Ansley sought to establish the first Special Olympics body in the Caribbean - Special Olympics in Barbados, in 1978 - Horace was invited to be a director of the inaugural Board, where he and his fellow Founding Directors lent their creativity and talent to ensure that the local arm of this global movement would adequately fulfill the needs of our citizens with intellectual challenges. Needless to say, this work became a family contribution, where Linda was an athlete, and her siblings were among the youngest volunteers at that time. Donna is currently Chairman of Special Olympics Barbados.

Not to be forgotten is the work done by Horace and Emsie on the establishment of the Children Development Centre (now the A C Graham Development Centre ).

Horace and Emsie’s generosity also saw them hosting events under the Barbados Tourist Board’s initiative “An Evening on Us” – where tour buses full of visitors to the island were treated to an evening of Bajan gastronomy and music, in the company of a local family and their many friends.

Many a memorable dinner party was held at their home. Horace and Emsie often invited visiting colleagues from around the world to have a traditional Bajan dinner or lunch, which served as the ideal occasion for “engendering” support for many developmental projects for the island.

In reminiscing about their father, Donna and Horace (Stephen) recalled that both parents were actively involved in every aspect of their lives – every PTA, every school fundraiser, every cricket match and musical recital, among others. In addition, sage advice on career paths and contributions to the Government and people of Barbados, was always forthcoming.

His offspring agree that they have been blessed with wonderful parents, who saw to it that they gained the requisite exposure to life and to people. Their home was a peaceful place where their friends were always welcomed, and where strangers, including UWI students and lecturers from throughout the region, were made to feel at home at Christmas, Easter and other significant celebratory occasions. They both would have had similar experiences growing up in their respective homes in Green Hill and Black Rock.

Horace was a special gift to Barbados, shared and cherished by those who knew him or worked with him. We all valued his advice, his generosity and his expertise. He helped his cricketing brothers develop their expertise and regretted that Tony, who represented Barbados at age 17, Trevor and I, abandoned cricket at an early age.

He has left an indelible mark upon his family, his Church and his community.

We must thank him for the exemplary life of voluntary service as we celebrate 50 years of Barbados’ independence.

On behalf of his children, Donna, Linda and Stephen, his surviving siblings and other members of the family, I wish to express gratitude to Horace’s caregivers and friends Vida, Sharon and Mark; Dr. Colette George, and other members of the medical fraternity; his Church family here at St. Stephen’s; his Rotary and Surveying colleagues; the Special Olympics Family and those entities affiliated with special needs persons .

To all of you here present today, we thank you for your support at this time and for your kind expressions of friendship.

I had the honour of sitting with Horace last year and recording over seven hours of conversations detailing his life, his work, his family and Barbadian society. It was indeed an educational experience second to none.

I must admit, not due to fraternal duty, that Horace was indeed the most extra-ordinary person I have ever met in my life.

To quote a Greek Philosopher : “ Say not in grief he is no more but live in thankfulness that he was”.

Rest in Peace, My Dear Brother.

Rest in Peace my dear brother.

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