Karl Lauriston Fuller can open his wardrobe and select any of a number of gowns-educational, musical, legal, or liturgical. Adel Blair, a.k.a “Froggy,” of blessed memory, was a farm hand on the Munro Farm for many years, and he would castigate any co-worker he deemed to be slacking with the stern rebuke, “Yu tink sey a suh Parson get im gown??!!” Karl is one of those few who acquired many gowns with competence and wore them all with elegance.
Karl’s father, Sergeant Percival Fuller, later to be Inspector, was born in Ginger Ridge St. Catherine and married Eleanor Anderson, a teacher in the same parish, and there Karl, the first of six children, was born in 1931. Providence brought Percival Fuller from his roots in St. Catherine to the Grange Hill and Blue Fields stations in Westmoreland and Malvern in St. Elizabeth.
Karl was home taught until seven years old, attended Bethlehem Practicing School for five years, and entered Munro in 1943 with the help of a grant. He was a day boy, an unknown quantity in a boarding establishment. He was placed in Farquharson House. He made full use of his time at Munro, leaving in 1948 with his Senior Cambridge and Higher Schools certificates, also having played cricket for his house and having learnt music for two years with Mrs. Ward, the headmaster’s wife. His focus was academic, no pranks. His most memorable influences were Mr. Wiehen who taught French and Scripture and Mr. Newnham who taught Latin.
On leaving Munro, his first job was at the Supreme Court. The legal bug bit him, for his second employment was as a Legal Clerk at Attorneys-at-Law Manton and Hart. His third was Legal Assistant at Kaiser Bauxite Company, St. Ann. At Kaiser he went from Legal Assistant to Personnel Industrial Relations Manager, a post he held for nine years, then he was made Manager of Property Land Transactions. In addition to work experience, he earned his BSc and MBA degrees. Kaiser had an arrangement with Nova University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for correspondence courses guided by a visiting professor and a final month of immersion at Nova itself. Eighteen years in that position brought him to “retirement” in 1994.
His most important achievement at Kaiser, however, was marrying Joy Snape of Clonmel, St. Mary, who was also an employee of Kaiser. Karl describes her as an incredible supporter, and one is at a loss to imagine how he could have accomplished all he did without Joy at his side and on his side.
Contributions to Church and Music
In 1958, sixty years ago, he became Organist and Choir Director of St. Ann Parish Church. In 1990 he became Producer and Narrator of the RJR program “Great Christian Hymns of our time.” Its fulfilment to him is typified by one lady phoning him one Sunday at mid-day to thank him for the hymn of that morning. She said she had woken up feeling depressed and hopeless and the story behind the hymn, and the hymn “Jesus, saviour pilot me” lifted her completely.
In 1964, (maybe dissatisfied with his light workload) Karl founded and conducted the St. Ann’s Bay Singers. Between 2004 and 2011 he was a member of the Provincial Commission for Liturgy and Music, and he was Project Manager coordinating production of the first Hymn Book for the Province of the West Indies. This work earned the fulsome written appreciation of both the Archbishop of the West Indies (Dr. John Holder) and the Suffragcan Bishop of Kingston (Dr. Robert Thompson).
A Justice of the Peace from 1975, Karl became Chairman of the St. Ann Justices of the Peace Association (1998-2002) and deputized for the Custos Rotolorum of St. Ann on numerous occasions.
His church was more to him than an outlet for his musical talent for in 1982 he was Lay Representative of the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, and for twelve years Karl was a member of the Diocesan Board and of its Synods Retreat centre. In 2007 the Diocese of Jamaica honored him for music provided at Synods.
His first act in his newfound retirement was to start his own business, Excelsior Realty Company Limited in St. Ann’s Bay. This venture is land and legal based, and he had honed those skills at The Supreme Court, Manton and Hart, and in Kaiser Bauxite.
From 1995 to 2006 Karl lectured in Management at Jamaica Institute of Management (JIM) and that is the tip of his educational iceberg. He served on the Board of Trustees of Westwood High School and supervised five major building construction projects while Chairman of the institution for twenty-five years.
The List goes on….
Between 1974 and 1989 he was a member of the St. Ann Hospital’s Regional Board for which he became Chairman 1983-1989.
In 1984 Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation International awarded Karl Fuller for outstanding service to the community.
He was a member of the Jamaica School of Music Board on two occasions. Doesn’t this indefatigable man make you feel exhausted? Sorry folks, there is more. From 1984 to 1994 he chaired Aboukir Educational and industrial Institute. In 1995 he was a member of the board of St. Ann Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., became President for four years, during which time he led the merger of two parish credit unions.
He became Master of Seville Masonic Lodge, St. Ann’s Bay in 1968, and starting in 1972 was for 7 years President of the St. Ann’s Bay Citizens Association.
Karl Fuller has been honored by all the institutions he served, and in most cases led. The following phrases are “trending,” as they say, in honors bestowed on him- distinguished service, dedicated service, certificate of merit, good citizen, and outstanding leadership. In 1993 the Government of Jamaica conferred on Karl Fuller the order of Distinction for Education, Cultural Development, Church and Community. Karl considers his life full and profitable and says God has been good to him and his supportive wife of more than forty-six years. Karl carries in his wallet a saying by one Arthur Dobrin: “Whatever good there is in the world I inherit from the courage and work of those who went before me. I, in turn, have a responsibility to make things better for those who will inherit the earth from me.”
For these reasons and many more Karl Lauriston Fuller has been proudly inducted into the Munro College Old Boys Hall of Fame.