Personal gain was never a motivating factor for Austin Davey’s generosity and kindness.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert, which caused widespread destruction in Jamaica in 1988, Davey used his 658 Vaughan Rd. commercial property – which he later sold to Share – as a drop-off point and storage facility for clothes and non-perishable food items to be shipped to the country of his birth.
He then took time off from his job to go to Jamaica and help in the rebuilding process.
“Austin took a power saw and other tools and spent three weeks there helping to restore infrastructure across the island,” said close friend, Tim Escoffery. “He always found ways to give of his time and resources without expecting anything back in return. Our friendship started about 50 years ago and he was loyal, trustworthy, kind, honest and hardworking. The world has lost another good and gentle soul.”
Davey, who returned to Jamaica to settle nearly a decade ago, died last week. He would have celebrated his 76th birthday on February 12.
After spending two years in the United States, Davey arrived in the Greater Toronto Area in 1966. He worked with CN Rail and drove a cab for a brief period before joining the City of Toronto as a carpenter. He retired about 20 years ago.
“He was the best handyman I knew,” said Joe Halstead, another close friend of the deceased. “If there was something to be done, he would volunteer to do it. He could build and fix things. He just didn’t believe in paying others to do it.”
An avid cricketer, Davey was an integral part of the defunct Commonwealth Cricket Club of the Toronto & District Cricket Association (TDCA).
“I remember Austin using his carpentry skills to construct the club’s first scoreboard,” said Escoffery. “He and Clement Burrowes were also instrumental in starting the TDCA’s first junior team and because of their vision, other clubs followed and that resulted in the league mandating that all clubs should field a junior side to help develop the sport.”
In addition to playing cricket together, Davey, Escoffery and Halstead were business partners.
“We went into a number of business ventures that lost money,” said Halstead, who is the chair of Ontario Place Corporation. “But the remarkable thing is that our relationship as friends became stronger. That’s the mark of a good guy.”
Former TDCA administrator, Austin Ward, has fond memories of Davey.
“Austin’s commitment to the juniors was exceptional,” said Ward. “He was generous and always willing to give. This guy was one of the nicest and kindest persons I have come across.”
Ex-International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas region manager and Victoria Park player, Martin Vieira, competed against Davey in the 1970s.
“I remember Austin as being very gentle, easy-going and decent,” said Vieira. “One memory that sticks out was the time he inadvertently opened a book I had on the scorer’s table which detailed the strengths and weaknesses of opposing players. He apologized on the spot and then commended me for doing the extensive homework. His comment was ‘I wish all of us think like you’. That was very classy of him.”
Davey was also a long-time Jamaican Canadian Association and Heritage Singers member.
He spent 15 years up until 2000 with the Heritage Singers which was founded by Grace Lyons.
“Austin was one of our most dedicated members,” said Lyons. “He loved the folklore culture and was very committed to our organization.”
Davey will be laid to rest on Saturday in Manchester, Jamaica.
He’s survived by his wife Norma, children Garnett and Mediza and three grandchildren.