Jamaica College has produced 17 Rhodes Scholars, including late Premier Norman Manley and his son, the late Michael Manley who was Jamaica’s fourth Prime Minister; current PM Bruce Golding and former West Indies cricket captain Jimmy Adams.
Jamaica’s third oldest high school also turned out Dr. Claude “Teece” Davis who distinguished himself in sport and academics and later as a professional leader in Canada. The long-time Jamaica College Old Boys Association of Canada (JCOBAC) member succumbed to cancer last week at his Hamilton home. He was 68.
Davis was the head boy in his last year of high school in 1961, captaining JC to the Manning Cup and Olivier Shield soccer titles while conceding just three goals.
Kingston’s urban teams compete for the Manning Cup with the winner meeting the top rural side for the Olivier Shield. Both tournaments started in 1909.
Ferncourt High School alumnus Keith Curnow said Davis was an outstanding goalkeeper.
“At that time, JC had a very strong defence,” recalled Curnow who was born a month after Davis. “But Claude blocked everything that came his way….I also remember him as being very unassuming and quiet and someone who did his job very efficiently.”
Davis led the Jamaica Schools soccer team that toured Haiti and Puerto Rico in 1962, captained his school’s cricket side and was a member of the country’s school cricket teams that competed against Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados in 1960 and 1961.
He taught briefly at his alma mater before pursuing post-secondary studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he attained a doctorate in Chemistry and a diploma in Management Studies. He also lectured at UWI before coming to Canada to take up a post-doctoral Fellowship at the University of Calgary.
Davis was also a visiting professor in Environmental Management at UWI’s Centre for Environment & Development and a part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto where, in 2001, he was appointed a member of the Board of Governors. He served three three-year terms and was also the chair of the U of T Affairs Board from 2006-2009.
“While Claude was no stranger to the U of T, I introduced him to the university as an ideal candidate for appointment as a governor in recognition of his academic achievements and also because I had great respect for his professionalism and his understated demeanour,” said former Ontario government minister Mary Anne Chambers, a former U of T governor and governing council vice-chair. “He was brilliant but very modest, always soft spoken, pleasant and a gentleman.”
Chambers also encouraged Davis to join Tropicana Community Services Organization (TCSO) where he served as president from 1998-2002 and as a board member for several years.
“I knew his wisdom and competence would be of great value to the organization,” Chambers said.
TCSO executive director Sharon Shelton said Davis made an enormous contribution to Canada’s largest Black social service delivery agency.
“He was well liked, jovial and someone with a gentle nature,” she said.
Last year, Davis was honoured with a U of T Arbor Award established in 1989 to recognize alumni volunteers. In addition to completing the maximum nine years as a governing council government appointee and serving on the Affairs board, he also served on the university’s Business and Academic boards.
Louis Charpentier, secretary of the U of T governing council, said Davis was an exemplary governor.
“He was thoughtful, patient, insightful, fair and thorough in his work, dealing with challenging personalities and situations with a calm, firm and principled approach,” he said. “And he was a wonderfully warm person, always ready with a deliciously funny remark to put life into perspective.
“Claude left an indelible mark in his work as a governor and those of us with whom he worked. We were fortunate as an institution to have had the benefit of his wisdom and knowledge and, as a people, the warmth of his friendship. We will miss him immensely.”
A former JCOBAC president for three years up until 2006, Davis played a key role in the establishment of the organization’s website.
“Claude was always on the cutting edge of technology,” said the organization’s president Charles Francis. “He was a visionary and a very dignified and exceptional human being who advanced this organization in many ways. We will miss him dearly.”
Davis, who in 1998 founded Claude Davis & Associates that provides environmental management services, is survived by wife Marcia and sons Kevin and Dean.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will take place on Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m. at St. John’s Anglican Church, 272 Wilson Street E., Ancaster. A reception following the service will be held at the church’s facilities. A commemorative service will be held on September 2 at UWI chapel at Mona campus in Kingston, Jamaica.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Juravinski Cancer Centre.