One week after a rousing celebration by friends and members of the Excelsior Alumni Association in Florida sad news reached the revelers that one of their guest celebrants died suddenly after returning to Jamaica.
“I cannot believe it, I just got the news,” Duane Coombs, an alum and New York resident said after being notified of the death of Ian Cross.
Cross made a brief visit to Florida, and seemed healthy during his stay but reportedly died in his sleep last Monday.
He had just returned to Jamaica after attending a South Florida gala held in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Kingston high school.
There he accepted an award on behalf of his wife, Myrtle who due to failing health was unable to attend but was showered with accolades for her superlative role as games mistress at the Mountain View Ave landmark.
News of the death shocked and saddened friends who greeted Cross at the dinner dance that paid homage to Excelsorians.
Reportedly, Althea Brown Robinson, president of the organization will represent the membership at the funeral in Jamaica.
Cross had insisted on paying his way to the Miramar fundraiser in deference to the fundraising aspect of the dinner dance. He suggested that his initiative be regarded as a contribution to the effort of aiding the association which he said his wife will always be indebted.
Accompanied to the event by his daughter Amanda Seaga, son-in-law Andrew Seaga, and niece Carol Ann Chin, Cross heard former students and associates lavish plaudits on his spouse.
The president acknowledged the impact the former games mistress made on her life as well those of her contemporaries.
In addition a video collage of photographs of Cross was projected to the musical accompaniment of “This is Your Life.”
Desreine Taylor, acting consul general represented the Jamaica Consulate in order to present a plaque to the Cross family members.
According to Coombs, in response to the glowing show of affection, Cross thanked the association for “the accolades and joked that for more than 40 years few had known his real identity other than as the ‘husband of Myrtle’ or ‘father of Amanda.’
Coombs said Cross was also introspective in his response.
“He delivered a poignant speech noting the profound role Excelsior had played in the life of his wife. So pivotal a role Excelsior had played in his wife’s life, he pointed out, that at the first inkling that her health was deteriorating, the family had made the decision to take her on a visit to the school campus — confident in the belief that the familiar surroundings of her beloved alma mater would play a therapeutic role and provide” a nostalgic reference.