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Olivier Cox laid to rest


Olivier Cox laid to rest
Olivier Cox (FILE)

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Late founder and principal of the former Metropolitan High School Olivier Cox was today hailed by members of the school’s alumni association as their “Sidney Poitier” who took them from crayons to meaningful, productive adult lives.

In the tribute compiled by president of the association Jan-Lyn Skeete, and delivered at Cox’s funeral service at the Belmont Methodist Church, the former students based their sentiments on the words of the song “To Sir With Love” from the movie by the same name.

Sidney Poitier starred as a teacher in a rough London East End school populated mostly with troublemakers who were rejected from other schools for their behavior. His calm demeanor and desire to see them succeed, gradually earned him their respect.

“He was our Sidney Poitier before we knew who Sidney Poitier was and the lyrics ran true for thousands of boys and girls, [who are] now men and women who attended the Metropolitan High School.


Olivier Cox laid to rest
From left: Olivier Cox’s widow Valda Branch-Cox, Tessa Cox-Halford (daughter) and son-in-law William Halford. (Picture by Jameel Springer)

“Our tribute today is inspired by an extraordinary man, thanks to the contribution he made to the educational landscape of Barbados. The children of cane cutters, maids and the like were entrusted to his care. He moulded us into teachers, nurses, policemen, priests and good people who have made their own outstanding contributions to the nation.

“From humble beginnings himself, Mr Cox understood that the students who were enrolled at Metropolitan High School in the sixties and seventies came from poor families. He awarded scholarships and bursaries at that initial interview because he saw potential that we did not know we had.”

The late educator was regaled for “the advice, the discipline and encouragement dispensed in that bastion of learning” that was the now defunct private secondary school on Roebuck Street.

The near-two-hour service was conducted by the Rev. Dr Marcelle Brathwaite, assisted by former Metropolitan student Canon George Harewood of the Anglican Church.

Tributes were submitted by past students from around the globe, including one who is now an attorney-at-law in Dubai, and there was concurrence that Cox was “an insightful educator who was way ahead of his time”.

In a eulogy representing the many facets of Cox’s life as educator, organist, committed God-fearing man and family man, Ernest Marshall highlighted the breadth of Cox’s contribution.

“A humble man, a gentle man, a gentleman and a man who was able in his lifetime to achieve what many of us could not do even if we lived three lifetimes” was Marshall’s description of Cox who died on August 25 at age 87.

Peter Cox also paid tribute to his grandfather in song.

Following the service, interment took place at the Westbury Cemetery. (GC)