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Great sadness and shock engulfed the Fatima college community as the news of Mr. Joseph’s death on the 27th June, 2012 spread. Was this the same strong, giant Aloysius Bernard Joseph, Dean of Form five? How could this be?
The thought of life at the college without him was overwhelming.
Whether you remember him as a teacher, dean, chess coach or as simply the scary teacher with the loud footsteps in the hallway, his overall demeanor was one of a true professional. He was Mr. Regular and Mr. Punctual. Mr. Joseph was a pillar of Fatima College, not just a teacher here but part of the school’s physical structure. He spent six days a week here, Saturdays included for conducting his lessons class, along with supervising Saturday detention when it existed.
Mr. Aloysius Joseph was a Fatima Old Boy who joined the staff as a teacher in 1972. From 1980 – 1983, he pursued a degree at the University of the West Indies, where he graduated with honours with a major in English and a minor in Spanish. He immediately returned to teaching and later served as the Head of the English Department from1994 – 2002 and as the Dean of Form Five from 1995 till his passing. He ran the Chess Club which produced many grandmasters. He assumed lead roles in producing the College annuals, running the Fatima Summer lessons’ programmes and producing the school’s exams.
Though Mr. Joseph wore a stern face most of the time, he was a very warm person, full of personality, with a fantastic sense of humour. His wittiness and exceptional command of the English language contributed to very captivating speeches at school functions such as the Form Five graduation ceremony. One can’t imagine a Form Five grad without him.
We salute Mr. Aloysius Bernard Joseph, a great man that has positively impacted the lives of thousands. His level of professionalism, dedication, humility and excellence serves as a benchmark for any teacher. The corridors of Fatima will surely feel empty without this giant of a man.
The Perfect Coach
By Marcus Joseph (Chess Master, Class of 2006)
Aloysius Bernard Joseph was his formal name, he was commonly known to us as “Sir”. I am very thankful for the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the life of this wonderful man. There is so much I can say because to me he became much more than a coach. I pray that God gives me the words as I write to do justice to this wonderful soul.
His legacy began long before I arrived and I was simply privileged to become a part of it. When I arrived at Fatima in the year 2000 there existed a rich chess tradition. Initially I did not play chess but what started as a simple challenge eventually became a love and it is at the chess club that I became acquainted with this “giant of a man”. My notable contemporaries included Michael Hargreaves , Sean Perryman , Travis Hoskins , Aaron Browne, Allan Munro , Imran Hosein , Antonio Gellineau , Joseph Gill and more but I truly cannot list all . This list represents an interesting spread across generations, I fell in the middle. This was one of the great qualities of A.B Joseph, consistently reproducing teams. He did it generations before and simply continued. I am sure that my chess peers both in my generation and those before me will share similar sentiments concerning A.B. Joseph.
“Sir” had such an aura about him, when he entered the room there would be hushed silence, he was truly respected and in that almost hallowed place we called the chess room he was a colossal figure. I believe that he was more than a teacher by profession. I believe that it was by divine design. A coach at the end of the day is also a teacher for he instructs and this he certainly did; with such passion and sincerity in a way that only he could. A.B Joseph was a simple man! This was evident in his instructions and in almost all he did. I can recount the great sayings that have survived the ages and will continue to do so,
“there is nothing better than a rook on the seventh”
“what is better than a rook on the seventh? Two!”
“The man who controls the centre controls the game”
and my personal favourite,
“Marcus you will not last as long as the red house fire!” to which I would respond,
“I do not know anything about the red house fire, I cannot remember that”.
A.B Joseph, “My point exactly!”
As I write, it is with great sadness but with joy. I am saddened by a great loss but joyous to have shared in the life of such a wonderful soul. I am positive when I say that many of the joys I felt have been shared by many across the years. Father Gregory and Ms. Joyce would remember having to open the back exit for us many a late hours after chess duels , this was not uncommon such was the love of chess. There are so many fond memories, so many great stories; to0 little space to tell them all. His methods were simple, the results astounding. A.B understood the hearts of students and as most great teachers do, he knew how to reach them. Chocolate was one of his favourite motivational tools. I can remember many chess sessions where the winner of the exercise would receive a chocolate; the famed chocolate! We played through many grandmaster games and had to find the best plans and continuations. Points were awarded based on the accuracy of responses. What was noteworthy in these sessions is that although he came prepared and had selected moves and points in mind he was open to new suggestions and would assess them on its merit. I believe this was another mark of a great teacher, the ability to assess independently and not always just stick to the notes.
What is the greatest quality of any teacher? To teach till his students surpass his level. In this regard A.B Joseph has no equal. One time after I had beaten him in a game he lamented,
“This always happens; I teach them till I cannot beat them”. He genuinely gave of all that he could most selflessly. He was always full of advice and support, not just a talker but his actions supported. I know of no other coach to have singlehandedly produce so many champions as A.B Joseph has done over such a period. To me, A.B Joseph, “Joe”, “Sir” is the greatest, while I in no way take away from all who have contributed to the game and continue to do so, A.B Joseph as a man, a teacher and a coach in Trinidad and Tobago had and has no equal.
I no longer have space to tell more stories but anytime we meet, if you want to know about A.B Joseph as a chess coach, ask me. We will talk about it over tea, or more appropriately over a game of chess. Right now I simply wish to say thank you Aloysius Bernard Joseph for contributing to my life and the lives of so many others. To Peter Soverall, Mark Pattik, Gregory Boyce, Marcus Cobham, Allan Munroe and so many others, let us continue the legacy of the one and only A.B Joseph!