Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
GLENGOFFE, St Catherine:
IT WAS no laughing matter when 79-year-old Osmond Hemmings, then a student at the Grateful Hill Primary School in Glengoffe, St Catherine, told late former principal, Winston A. Smith, that he wanted to become a minister of religion.
"The principal came in one afternoon when we (the boys) were in the garden - the girls were doing sewing - and asked us what we wanted to become after we left school. Some said teachers, some said doctors, but I didn't say anything, and he turned to me and asked me again. I said I would like to be a minister of religion, and he laughed," explained Hemmings, who was ordained in 1962.
Born in Cashew Tree in Glengoffe, Hemmings, the last of four children, has been shepherding the flock at the Bible Truth Church of God Independent in the community since 1973.
PASSION FOR AGRICULTURE
A cultivator for most of his life, the senior, who developed a passion for agriculture while a student, planted several crops on the site of the Glengoffe High School.
"Right where the school is built now, I had a farm there. I leased the land, which was a fertile piece of land, and planted yellow yams, bananas, and vegetables. I also had two cows," he shared with The Gleaner.
He later became a member of the Jamaica Agricultural Society's (JAS) Glengoffe chapter, which he now serves as president. It was during his early years in the JAS that he became a correspondent for The Gleaner under the watchful eyes of former editor-in-chief, Theodore Sealy, then a subeditor.
"I was appointed as a correspondent from the JAS. The Gleaner said they wanted someone to write news on farming and community affairs, so I was appointed. They wanted us to go on the scene and write what we saw, not to take second-hand statements and send to The Gleaner," Hemmings reflected.
Passionate about community involvement, he served as president of the Glengoffe High School parent-teacher association as well as the chairman of the school board for several years.
"He is a reliable person. Anything we had at the school, any function, and we sent for him, he was always there," vice-principal, Heather Grizzle, told The Gleaner.
STILL SERVING SCHOOL
He now occupies the post of vice-chairman on his alma mater's school board. Principal George Moodie hails him as a caring father, a community stalwart, and a role model.
"He is a principled man - caring and involved in community activities. He is the first to welcome visitors to Glengoffe," Moodie said.
But Hemmings, a marriage officer, is saddened by the erosion of the social fabric, particularly the growing indiscipline among the nation's youth.
"The younger people in yesteryear weren't brought up by one parent. It was the whole community, and everybody tried to instil discipline and taught them to respect their elders. Now there is a twist. Some young people have no respect anymore," he noted.
Hemmings is calling for a return to the core value of respect, urging parents to inculcate a sense of discipline in their children and ensure that they are not only taught to be polite, saying 'thank you', 'please', and 'excuse me', but that they also put same into practice.
The justice of the peace, who walked down the aisle in 1955 with Mercibell, said he longs to see meaningful job creation, not only in Glengoffe, but in other areas.
"I would like to see more job creation because when they grow up and there is nothing for them to do, especially the boys, they sit on the walls on the corner, smoking the ganja and gambling. That is not good for them or the community," the father of nine remarked.
PHOTOS BY KAREN SUDU