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.
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