Walk Good ‘Solla’
Today I am taking the time out to pay homage to my old friend Clayton Solomon, referee, and former Managing Director of the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS), who passed away yesterday after a well fought battle with cancer.
Fondly called ‘Solla’ by all who knew him, he was always characterized as being such a down to earth individual, whose jovial nature was a perfect foil for the stern ways he executed his duties as administrator. There was very little going on in sports that he was not privy to, or a part of, always having been a solid advocate of grassroots sports development at the Sports Development Division (SDD) of the Social Development Commission (SDC).
SDD’s eventual merger with National Sports Limited, which became INSPORTS, saw him move office to the National Arena where he took on many of the challenges of that foundling agency, eventually attaining its top office.There was not a staff member who was at odds with Mr. Solomon. Never!
Somewhat of a workaholic, he exhibited great work ethics and was a tireless worker who led by example. He inspired the same in all who served under him. His staff was zealous in their dedication to him. His secretary and also our close friend Lisa, who sadly preceded him, guarded him against all and sundry like a pit bull. No one passed Lisa to get to Solla.
Loved by the nation’s sports officers, one and all, he was always one for cracking a few jokes and many a chuckle could be heard in the office which commonly erupted into outright bursts of laughter. When such was heard, if you looked closely …Solla was usually center of it all.
A true son of Montego Bay, he attended Cornwall College and later Church’s Teacher’s College before coming up through the ranks at the Institute of Sports until he reached the helm and held the reins. He is still regarded as the best Managing Director that agency has ever had.
I remember running at short notice as a national youth service worker to attend SMC meetings at the other end of the island with him when then Youth, Sports and Community Development Minister, Hugh Small was swamped and unable to fulfill his obligations to attend.
Solla was dubbed as the “Minister’s “blue eyed boy” because Mr. Small placed so much confidence in Solla’s ability to “make him look good.” It was always a journey of laughter and intellectual conversation because we were both bilingual and conversed in both languages.
Mr. Small’s popular quotation was “Solla mi bwoy, mek mi look good.”
This quote was later adopted by eventual INSPORTS Chairman Howard “Fudge” Aris, also sadly deceased. The emergence GC Foster College of Sports, and its programmes, took shape largely with Solla’s participation and instrumentality.
Mr. Solomon moved with his family to Florida several years ago, where he worked as liaison officer to the Jamaican government for hospitality workers and farm workers to the United States. He was recently promoted to head the program in the USA and moved from Florida to Washington DC, where he died.
Worthy of note is that Clayton often ‘joked’ that he was cousin to former USA Secretary of State Colin Powell to loud guffaws. This was proven to be indeed true when Mr. Powell sent a warm letter and picture of himself and family to Mr. Solomon’s mother in Montego Bay. As usual, Solla had the last laugh.
Your beloved wife Marjorie, son Ryan, daughter Marcie and your Insports family, plus others outside of it, whose lives you touched in so many positive ways, are really going to miss you big guy. Not to mention those chuckles you seemed to have a never ending supply of, as you shared all those little funny moments with us.
Our hearts are torn because we have lost one we hold so dear, but we will treasure the many beautiful memories we have of you forever. The Jamaican sports fraternity is eternally in your debt because you worked tirelessly to pave the way for our present global success in all round sports, from the grassroots level upward and you did it with love and never a whimper. It was always close to your heart. It seemed to define you.
All those late nights waiting at the airport for those Cubana Airlines flights which never came in at the designated time paid off. We are highly regarded worldwide as a sports nation today because of the friendships you inspired with Cuban sports officials, who made it their duty to help our athletes in whatever way they could. You have inspired a nation from the background, never seeking any praise or accolade for yourself. The clouds cried at your passing, as we also do.
Rest in Peace Clayton “Solla’ Solomon. You are one who will definitely be sadly missed.
WALK GOOD “Solla” mi boy!
Editor’s note: Clayton Solomon will be flown home for burial
By Ava Ramdeen – a former staff writer and subeditor of The Daily Gleaner ,The Jamaica Daily News, and Caribbean Life News in New York, as well as Managing Editor of the Caribbean Media Network 1995. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected]
P.S – The Jamaican Blogs™ expresses its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Solomon during this trying period
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