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Old March 25th, 2009, 12:02 PM
Karl's Avatar
Karl Karl is offline
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Default Munro College's Stephen F. Harle. A giant of a man!

Tributes to Stephen F. Harle

From Munro Hampton Alumni Association (MHAAC) - Canada

A life of great chemistry - Well lived

March 2009

A life of great chemistry - Well lived

Stephen F. Harle - legend, icon and catalyst of our formative years is gone but not silent and never will he be.

For Stephen F. Harle, life was chemistry and the human being was a perfect collection of chemicals that given the right stimuli, would activate, evolve and, after a period of time, generate the end-result. To this end, he made it his unwavering mission to ensure that the intervening time was spent as productively and purposefully as possible.

The Legend
Never one to seek the limelight but preferring instead to be a Vice-Principal in the background , Mr. Harle achieved an unintentional yet legendary status in the hearts and minds of all Munronians, Hamptonians and the well-wishers of both schools. His tenure and legendary tales will forever be characterised by fairness, results and a deep respect and demand for the very best from his students and the community at large. You did not have to be a chemistry student to have a “Mr. Harle” story. We all had one, whether you lived it yourself or you heard it from someone who has. These powerful stories, with their well-intended lessons has transformed us from “fear to focus” and will continue to inspire our lives for many years to come.

The Icon
An icon is an important and enduring symbol or legend, which Mr. Harle has been since he arrived in the parish of St. Elizabeth in 1956 at the age of 23; fresh from University. Mr. Harle came to Jamaica with a social conscience that ignored one’s stature as a pre-requisite to learning. As a teacher and administrator, Mr. Harle also demonstrated a constancy that was selfless and dependable. This provided the necessary elements to the enduring “Success Formula” of Munro College, which we will always be grateful for.

In 1982, former colleague Merle Roper wrote in the 125th anniversary issue of the school magazine, "there's no teacher like Mr. Harle," which was seen by all to be factual rather than flattery. (Source: Tony Morrison, Jamaica Gleaner Article).
Mr. Harle’s contributions to Munro College will endure and be impactful beyond the the boundaries of the “city set upon a hill”; inspiring scientists like Dr. Wayne Forbes (Class of 1985), who with a team of other chemists were able to obtain a patent in Jamaica and the US for a chemical compound that treated infectious diseases in mammals. On accepting a related award in Toronto, Canada a few years back, Dr. Forbes attributed his passion for chemistry to Mr. Harle - A true icon.

The Catalyst of our fomative years
To know Mr. Harle was to move through a transformatory process of:-
1. fearing him,
2. trying to impress him and
3. giving up on #2 and realising his expectations for you and your true potential to achieve results.

Our many reactions ( not very funny in our teens but hilarious now) have permeated our lives and we will remember them always.

His admonishments strengthened our pride
His admonishments like “oxygen’ were perfectly constructed and repeated to push us in our synthesis to well-evolved human beings. Almost immediately on meeting, we knew exactly what he expected of us; what we should expect of ourselves; how he would react when we didn’t and the immense pride that we felt when we knew that we had done what was expected. Never one to offer empty platitudes, his admonishments riffled a self-actualization in all of us that made us want to do well for ourselves. We thank Mr. Harle for everytime that he demanded that we be our very best and the many proud moments that have ensued thereafter.

His dedication promoted our “drive to achieve”
The image of an empty-handed Mr. Harle; strutting to his lab and teaching Chemistry without a textbook for 43 years is one that no one will ever forget. Being a student of his, you would often wonder how on earth did he remember everything (formulae; elements; where he needed to be within the curriculum and by when) and how did his students achieve a 70 to 90 per cent average pass rate in CXC/O' level and GCE A' level year over year. A single element was always evident in our explanations – HIS DEDICATION. It was not coincidental. His visible dedication to science made you want to be as impressive as he was. His “I don’t need to look at a textbook” staunch in the lab served up a drive in all his students to make Chemistry relative, interesting and a stimulating conversation that always generated excellent results.

WE THANK HIM for his admonishments and dedication - We have all been positively affected by them, irregardless of the length and nature of our many interactions. It was indeed our pleasure to have been impacted by the “chemistry” that Mr. Harle brought to all our lives.

Enclosed are some of the tributes that we have heard from our alumnus that celebrates
the life of Stephen F. Harle.

We are forever grateful, Mr. Harle – We are forever grateful.

Munro Hampton Alumni Association (MHAAC) - Canada Id=4March 2009

MHAAC Alumnus celebrates the life of Stephen F. Harle

I had no idea when the new Chemistry teacher arrived at Munro that this man with the unfamiliar brand of English was to become my white brother.

Our bond was quickly cemented by a shared love for our Munro students and for the Epping Forest youngsters we helped with private lessons. Steve quickly fell in love with certain Jamaican potions for which I also had an affinity & they were the lubricants for many of our times together.

Our headmaster, Mr. Richard Roper, must have initially had serious misgivings about having imported Steve but slowly he came to realize that his commitment to his job, to Munro and to Jamaica transcended all his other interests.

In the years after I left Munro we kept in touch, although not as much as we would have enjoyed. Our meetings were no less warm than in our earlier years and Judy readily accepted me as a family friend. To her, and to the countless friends and admirers who Steve deservedly acquired during his many years of service I offer both my sympathy & my congratulations, for he did much to enrich our lives.

Goodbye, my admirable friend.

Keith Barrett Id=5

I arrived at Munro in September 1956 - the same time as Steve Harle, the new Chemistry teacher. In a very short time, Steve made the adjustment to life in a totally different environment from his home and background in England - this was not an inconsiderable feat.

From the outset, Steve threw himself fully into his work as a Science teacher and immediately commanded the respect of his students for his teaching ability and knowledge of his subject. Because of these qualities, Steve was very popular and was able to maintain good and fair discipline at all times.

Steve participated fully in extra-curricular activities and I remember him on the soccer field as a solid defender with a bruising tackle. I remember well too the camaraderie that developed between Keith Barrett, Trevor Parchment, Mervyn Morris, Steve and myself as after our work was done for the day, we would gather in the annex to the Staff Room vying for supremacy on the darts board!

It is not an exaggeration to say that Steve dedicated his whole working life to Munro College to whose well-being he gave unqualified and unstinting service.

I am saddened by the fact that Christine and I will not be able to join in the outpouring of love and appreciation that his life and contribution to Munro College must surely merit.

Donald L. Bogle
Former Second Master Id=6

He inspired us to be the best we could be, in his own unique and philosophical way. His tackles were "dangerous". Being on the road with him for Kaiser Cup matches was an experience not to be forgotten. His chemistry class was always very interesting, and I am sure he was the reason many of us did well in this subject.

He will be missed but not forgotten - he epitomized 'In Arce Sitam-Quis Occultabit"

"Our actions today determine who we are tomorrow."

Be True,
Robert Burke Id=7

Here are my fondest memories of Mr. Harle. Whether you faced him on the soccer pitch or in the classroom he was a formidable foe. He would challenge you to achieve your very best, according to your abilities, while accepting nothing less.
On the soccer pitch it would have been in your best interest to avoid him like the plague unless you wanted some “serious bruising” from his infamous steel toed rugby boots masquerading as soccer boots.

In the classroom his ability to teach chemistry without a textbook and not miss a beat was classic. His strong disciplinarian exterior was tempered with a soft and fair heart.

There were countless stories of his fondness for the “spirits” and his love and caring of the community specifically Epping Forest and beyond. His contributions and service to all who passed through Munro’s gates, his colleagues, friends and family and the invaluable knowledge he imparted on his students will remain his legacy.

I was fortunate enough to have met him again and his wife Judy in 2006 at Munro’s 150th and his 50th anniversary at Munro.

May his soul Rest In Peace.

As a footnote: I want to know how he got his alias, “Staggy”?

Peter Chinn ‘73 Id=8

I got my first caning in 1st form from Mr Harle, for hopping the school bus. Afterwards he told me, I caned you for the dangerous dismount and not the act itself. I guess his point was: if you are brave enough to attempt a difficult task, you should be man enough to go all the way. He truly understood the words: BOYS WILL BE BOYS!!!

And of course everyone will remember the short Sunday services and his amazing choice of hymns, but for me it was all about soccer. A diving header from the top of the 18 yards box that flew across the crossbar like a rocket (Teachers vs Epping Forrest – A Field) 1972. A penalty kick (toe punt) that pierced the back of the net ..the same game. Does anyone remember his favorite soccer kit – red and white socks (rolled down to the ankles) and the matching jersey…perhaps inspired by Sunderland FC or his favorite Premier League Team. Fond memories indeed.

In many ways he was an extraordinary man, who was totally committed and devoted to enriching the lives of Munronians and the Epping Forrest community.

May he rest in peace.

Gaunett Coke 1972 – 1979 Id=9

Here is how I will remember Mr. Harle:

He was a brilliant teacher. I would not have passed chemistry without his influence.

He was a strict disciplinarian who was loved by all. He had the unique ability of consistently treating all the students fairly, while exhibiting compassion as required. He was highly respected by all for these strong traits.

I have very fond memories of competing against Mr. Harle on the soccer pitch; first eleven team versus "the rest". I had to run wide of his tackles, otherwise I would be limping for at least a week. His boots were the old style, and he was very passionate, so it was prudent to avoid the


My last visit with Mr. Harle was the summer of 2007, at his home just outside of Munro. We chatted and reminisced about the good old days. These fond memories will remain with me.

Richard (Girry) Grant
Class of '67 Id=10

Richard H. Nurse, Coke House, Jan 1954 to April 1962.
Mr Harle taught me chemistry and together with his fellow Teesider , Brian Caldicott, physics teacher, provided a sound basis for my future career in the sciences/polymer engineering:
BSc (Hons), Chemistry and Plastics Technology, (Borough Polytechnic, London, UK 1967) and PhD, Polymer Technology, (Manchester University, Manchester, UK 1970). Chartered Chemist, UK 1976.

He taught me other lessons for which I remain grateful: honesty, dry humour, teamwork and humility.

Munro College has lost a true friend. Deepest sympathy to Judith, his wife. Id=11Richard H. Nurse, PhD.


I am grateful to Steve Harle for his kindness, encouragement and consideration shown during my years at Munro College.

Steve was my Chemistry teacher for all the years I was at Munro (1961 to 1968).
We appreciated his teaching, because to him chemistry was not just another subject, he made chemistry life. Not only did he impart the knowledge that was available to him, he was concerned that we understood the subject matter and that we did well in exams. It was as a result of his encouragement that I achieved distinction in GCE Advanced Level chemistry.

I remember at UWI (St. Augustine), when we (MOB) fell behind in our studies, we wished there was a Steve Harle lecturing at the university. At least he would understand and explain things better.

Steve was Hall master for Coke House during the years I was at Munro. We appreciated his availability when we needed him, and his fairness in dealing with domestic matters.

I trust that Steve’s soul will find the peace that he so richly deserves. May he rest in Peace.

My family and I send our deepest condolence to Steve’s family and friends. We wish them God’s comfort during this time of loss.

Samuel A Williams, 1962 - 1968


Munro CollegeOld Boys Association
7 Upper Musgrave Avenue • Kingston 10, Jamaica • (876) 927-6686 • Fax: 927-3259

To: ALL Munronians – Local
- Overseas
- Honorary
- Hamptonians

From: The Secretariat [M.C.O.B.A.]

Date: March 6, 2009

Subject: The Very last missive from Stephen Fredrick Harle

Dear Member,

May we invite you to share with us the very last missive from our deeply respected “Staggy”, - sent from Sydney, Australia where he “passed” on Thursday, February-26-2009. [A ‘translation’ is offered.]

He has touched every Munronian from 1956 to 2009!

He has served us all, so well. May he R.I.P.

Yours truly,

F. Winston Browne
Hon. Secretary [M.C.O.B.A.]


Feb. 05. 09 “AT SEA”

Judy checked on this chap yesterday

I stayed on Board
V. Good service, Food Accomodation Weather. Sorry we missed Glen Patrick’s call. Many thanks to him.

Nest stop Patentee, Tahiti, 10th Feb.
By-Pass Pitcairn [Bread Fruit county (BLY)]
England 236-5 – Just came over T.V.

Beverages Fine But No Appleton or Red Stripe. Drinking Beefeater Heineken anf Jack Daniels

Health is Improving: Regards
To all OB et Al

Cheers Steve

f.w. browne


Munro College's Stephen F. Harle, A giant of a man!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Last edited by Karl : March 25th, 2009 at 12:06 PM. Reason: To make corrections
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