Difficult Conversations – When Giants Leave Us

On Saturday 3rd July 2021, Arnold Boyce, a Geotechnical Engineer, and Director of SB Testing and Engineering Ltd, went to the great beyond.  He lived for 66 years.  I worked with him professionally for 30 of those years.

Despite his unmatched contribution to Barbados’ infrastructure, he left this sphere of existence without fanfare – even I was unaware that he had died until one week after the funeral.  Before he becomes another forgotten link in the chain of Barbados’ development, Barbadians should be aware of this man who contributed so much to their lives.

A CRITICAL PROFESSION.

If you are a Barbadian citizen or resident, you have likely used infrastructure that Arnold provided the most important advice.  Arnold advised on the riskiest aspect of construction – the foundation.  He was responsible for determining the type and strength of soil and rock layers, and recommending the foundation system.

If the foundation is unstable, everything built on that foundation is also unstable.  If Arnold made a mistake, it would be known quickly – publicly.  That is perhaps the most efficient way an Engineer can become nationally, and perhaps internationally known.  That most Barbadian Engineers are not publicly known, may be a testament to the good quality of their work.

I have not known Arnold to make a mistake on any of my projects.  If you enter a public or private building this week, or drive on one of our highways, consider thanking the Creator of all that is seen and unseen for Arnold’s dedication to his craft.

WELL DONE.

Despite his deep knowledge and wide experience, to my knowledge, Arnold was never invited to speak to any Barbadian organisation like: the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Soroptimists, Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or even a school. Neither was his name listed on any plaque on any building on which he worked.

Despite his consistent excellence in a profession where he attracted considerable liabilities, he received no national honours or media recognition.

Arnold’s work with us has ended.  He knows, with absolute certainty, that God is interested in the lives of us all.  It is my sincerest hope that he will hear these words, as he is embraced by our Heavenly Father, “well done”.  To his family, thank you for sharing him with us.

The following poem was written in 1907 by Rudyard Kipling, to help the public appreciate the great responsibilities of Engineers.

THE SONS OF MARTHA

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ‘Be ye removed’. They say to the lesser floods, ‘Be dry’.
Under their rods are the rocks reproved – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matter hidden – under the earthline their altars are;
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their work when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand.
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat:
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that:
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own king in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise Runs:
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons.

Rudyard Kipling, 1907 (Scripture reference: Luke 10:38-42)

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

24 comments

  • A good human interest story that will never attract comment. Many tend to go after the salacious and contentious stuff. The reality is that it takes regular ordinary citizens to make things happen.

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  • THERE WAS NOT ANYTHING ORDINARY ABOUT THIS MAN
    HE WAS EXTRA-ORDINARY IT SEEMS, THOUGH UNSUNG
    SUCH FOLK ARE MOCKED ON BU, WHERE SUBNORMALS ABOUND

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  • GP

    Who are the extra-ordinary unsung folk that does get mocked on BU?

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  • GP tends to apply literal translations. The reference to ordinary was taken entirely out of context. In fact the reason why the man is being recognized by Grenville and why the blogmaster posted the comment is because we need to shift the focus from high profile prominent persons hogging the spotlight to those who make significant contributions away from the glare of publicity.

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  • RE GP tends to apply literal translations.

    IF ONE DOES NOT WANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY THEN SAY NOTHING OR SAY WHEN YOU ARE USING ONE OF THE SEVERAL FIGURES OF SPEECH
    The reference to ordinary was taken entirely out of context.
    WHO DECIDES HOW I AM TO TAKE SOMETHING
    I REMIND YOU ONCE MORE GP IS NOT THE TYPICAL MORON WHO POSTS HERE

    WHEN I SAY THAT THE MAN WAS NOT ORDINARY I MEAN THAT HE WAS NOT ORDINARY. THAT HE WAS NOT THE USUAL PERSON WHO HAS NEVER CONTRIBUTED ANY THING OF VALUE HERE, THERE OR ANYWHERE, AND IS INCAPABLE OF DOING SO, OR UNWILLING TO DO SO.

    In fact the reason why the man is being recognized by Grenville and why the blogmaster posted the comment is because we need to shift the focus from high profile prominent persons hogging the spotlight to those who make significant contributions away from the glare of publicity.
    IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT GRENVILLE MEANT, WHY DO YOU IN OUR OBVIOUS CONTINUING SUSTAINED MENTAL FOG THINK THAT GP CANNOT PERCIEVE THE SAME

    JUST AS GRENVILLE SOUGHT TO COMPLIMENT THIS MAN, GP WITH COMMAND OF THE LANGUAGE DID THE SAME IN HIS OWN STYLE

    READ WHAT I SAID AGAIN… SLOWLY ….SO YOUR BETZPENIA WILL ALLOW YOU TO CEREBRATE AND COMPREHEND …….SLOWLY NOW….SLOW….. SLOW IT WAS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH

    I SAID IN ENGLISH
    THERE WAS NOT ANYTHING ORDINARY ABOUT THIS MAN
    HE WAS EXTRA-ORDINARY IT SEEMS, THOUGH UNSUNG

    IN OTHER WORDS HE WAS ABOVE ORDINARY …..BETTER THAN ORDINARY….MORE THAN ORDINARY

    YOU MUST STOP SEEKING TO INSULT FOLK WHO COME HERE WHO HAVE AN INTELLECT FAR SUPERIOR TO WHAT YOURS, HAS EVER BEEN OR WILL EVER BE

    YOU MAY NOW PROCEED TO DO THE ONLY THING YOU CAN DO…..AND WHAT YOU DO BEST

    SO MUCH FOR …JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION, YOU NEVER KNOW HOW EXPRESSING YOUR VIEW MAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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  • Your reply is predictable. The nuance attached to how people converse and interact is your challenge. Let us agree Grenville did a good job recognizing a former colleague. You may have the last word.

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  • THE ONLY CHALLENGE I HAVE IS DEALING WITH SUBSTANDARD FOLK LACKING IN WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING, WHO THINK THEY CAN INSULT ME AND PUT ME DOWN.

    MY POST WAS CLEARLY MEANT TO ENDORSE WHAT GRENVILLE SAID AND MY ENGLISH WAS CLEAR….VERY CLEAR.

    MY CONTENT AND INTENT WERE BOTH VERY CLEAR

    RE GP tends to apply literal translations. The reference to ordinary was taken entirely out of context.
    WHO ARE YOU TO THINK YOU CAN DECIDE IF I TOOK SOMETHING OUT OF CONTEXT
    AND WHERE WAS THE TRANSLATION? EVERYTHING WAS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH.

    DO YOU EVEN KNOW THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD “TRANSLATION”? OR THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD “LITERAL”

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  • Afrikans we are not unless we hold fast to an Afrikan philosophy.

    In ancient Afrikan philosophical thought and praxis the ancestors never die in the way Grenville and others who follow Western impositions posit.

    Instead they live forever through they childrens and all those they encounter in this existence. Indeed, they enjoy EVERLASTING life in that way. There is no other way.

    For us Afrikans there is no need to rest on the ignorance of albinos with visions of a nonexistent heaven and hell, duality. Visions informed by a devilish cave-dwelling recent history.

    If this engineer was as intergral as you presumed he will take his rightful place within the pantheon of ancestors amongst us right now.

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  • @Pacha

    Trust you to stretch the argument LOL.

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  • AS TIME HAS PROGRESSED YOU HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE RUNNING OFF OF THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST WHO HAVE COME HERE TO GIVE…… BY ALLOWING MORONS THE PRIVILGE THE DEMEAN PROPER PEOPLE AND SEEK TO PULL THEM DOWN.

    ONE CAN NOT GIVE A VIEW THAT GOES AGAINST THAT OF THE MULTITUDE WHO CONTINUALLY PRACTICE THE FALLACY OF THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE, YOU WILL BE SHOUTED DOWN BY THE PATHETICALLY AND PATHOLOGICAL CRETINS.

    AS A BAJAN, I READ ALL THE NEWS PUBLICATION ONLINE DAILY
    ONE COMES HERE SEEKING AND HOPING TO READ SOMETHING UPLIFTING, TO SEE FOLK CONTRADICTING AND INSULTING SOME OF THE BEST BARBADOS HAS PRODUCED…….LIKE DR LUCAS.

    BU LOST A LOT WHEN HE LEFT.

    ONE COMES, AND IN DESPAIR AND FRUSTRATION ALL THAT ONE CAN DO IS “ROCK AND MOCK”

    MANY A DAY ONE CAN CONTRIBUTE WITH SOUND SANE INFO THAT COMES TO YOU DAILY IN YOUR FIELD.
    BUT WHY DO SO? YOU WILL BE MOCKED BY IGNORANT FOLK WHO DO NOT KNOW….AND IT IS ALLOWED.

    WHY SHOULD ANYONE CAST THEIR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE AND SCUM.
    IT IS EASIER TO JUST “ROCK AND MOCK” IN DESPAIR AND FRUSTRATION

    BARBADOS WILL NEVER BE BETTER.

    IN THE CIRCLES IN WHICH I MOVE MEMBERS APPRECIATE OTHERS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS, AND SEEM TO RECOGNIZE AND APPRECIATE WORTH…….PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY ARE THEMSELVES VALUABLE

    THEY THEREFORE SEEK TO EDIFY AND UPLIFT OTHERS.

    WHEN GRENVILLE WRONGLY DIVIDED THE WORD OF TRUTH AS COMPARED TO THAT TAUGHT BY THE SEVERAL MEN, WHO ARE RENOWNED FOR SUCH UNIVERSALLY. I DISPUTED WITH HIM. OTHERWISE I LAUD AND APPLAUD HIM BECAUSE HE IS NOT AN ORDINARY BAJAN

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  • David
    How else can phenomena be explained, understood.

    Similarly, there is no ‘great beyond”.

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  • @GP2
    Not all will get the spotlight on them or recurve national acclaim, but being recognized by professionals in the same/a similar field may be a greater honor.

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  • @Pacha

    The blogmaster is not afraid to admit an inability to enter the realm of the esoteric to pursue such matters.

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  • We may see this as. esoteric but the Ancients never did.

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  • I never met him, sounds like he was quite a man.

    Boyce .. probably St. Lucy.

    Any relation to John or D’Arcy who I knew?

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  • RE :probably St. Lucy.
    THANK GOD, NO
    DARCY IS FROM ST ANDREW
    JOHN AND HIS BROTHER FROM MILE AND QUARTER AREA ST PETER

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  • Only one person mocked Robert Lucas as a professional. Nobody agreed and some of us jumped to his defence.

    It was Robert’s politics with which many of us took issue.

    Does one’s professional qualifications in agriculture and food technology exempt one from criticism in matters of politics?

    They were two seperate issues.

    Still, Robert’s politics did not distort his professional positions to any illogical extent. He was balanced in these matters. He did not see agriculture or food technology through an extremely and obviously warped political lens.

    I do miss his presence.

    Now…

    I thank the goodly gentleman who kept the buildings from falling on our heads. I bet his last thoughts were not about any honours he was denied. I bet he was simply happy to have used what talents were entrusted to him to the best of his ability. The best recognition one can receive is to have one’s services sought again and again. It may be that he got a kick out of knowing that as long as nobody outside of the necessary circle knew his name, he was doing a great job.

    In his position, I would have found that hilarious. It would have been my private little joke.

    You say his name was what again?

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  • He was a humble man always willing to help anyone.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    And @David, therein (your 5:56PM) lies the rub of your earlier post re “the comment is because we need to shift the focus from high profile prominent persons hogging the spotlight to those who make significant contributions away from the glare of publicity“!

    Most folks, like this gentleman Greville highlighted, are very contented to go about the business of life anonymously … happy to be appreciated by family, friends and colleagues and damn the spotlight!

    That we seek them out or know about them is often due to special circumstances or them being acclaimed by some org.

    May this good gentleman rest peacefully with his ancestors in his faith… he craved not the limelight and leaves this mortal coil exactly – I can only presume – in the style as he wished.

    Peace.

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  • it is noteworthy, that Proverbs 18:16 teches that “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.” One version says “brings him before great men. Yet another version says “brings him before kings”.

    I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT THE REASON WHY OR WHEN A MAN’S GIFT DOES NOT BRING HIM BEFORE GREAT MEN, IT IS SIMPLY THAT THEY ARE NO GREAT MEN AROUND, AND ONLY THE INEPT, THE IGNORANT AND THOSE INCAPABLE OF RECOGNIZING OR APPRECIATING THE MAN’S GIFT.

    Similarly. Proverbs 22:29 asserts ” Seest thou a man diligent in his business? (or skilled in his work) he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men He will not stand before obscure men.

    Remember although proverbs are not “promises” per se, they are generally true…and worth heeding!

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  • There’s plenty of people who recognise people. Those who don’t demand recognition are recognised without fanfare. Just the way they like it.

    Who cares about honours and recognition?

    Really, WHO cares?

    What type of personality sets out with honours and recognition in mind?

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  • DonnaJuly 27, 2021 5:48 PM

    It was Robert’s politics with which many of us took issue.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Remind us again what were his politics that caused so much consternation.

    I can’t remember.

    He was usually above my head technically (not my field) but I appreciated his contribution for the simple reason that he was there and cared enough to share his knowledge freely about things which I was clueless.

    I liked also reading about his walks/strolls/perambulations around town.

    Nice to know there still are people in Barbados who are multidimensional.

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  • This post was intended for other things. I set the record straight regarding the misleading comment about our treatment of Robert Lucas.

    I’m done.

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  • More than 20 years ago Arnold did a geotechnical survey for one of my siblings who was anxious about building near to a wetland. He offered excellent and reassuring technical advice. All is still well.

    The obit appeared in the Sunday Sun of July 11 on page 4D.

    Death can come to anybody at anytime but once we get to be a “certain” age it is instructive to read the obits in the Wednesday and Sunday papers or to listen to CBC radio at 6 in the morning.

    Like

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