Munro College Old Boys Association

Sonia Hayden

Mrs Sonia Jacqueline Hayden

Sonia Hayden was immensely proud of, very loyal to, and did tremendous work for her own alma mater, St. Andrew High School, but there was another great high school that benefited from her open and generous arms, Munro College.

As she obviously did not attend Munro College and was never employed to the school, Mrs. Hayden does not qualify for the Hall of Fame, but such is her staggering legacy as a Munro parent, friend of the school, and mentor to countless old boys, there was little choice but to include her as an honorary member.

Her connection to Munro goes back to 1953 when her husband-to-be entered the school. In September 1982 it was her son Brando’s turn to face the cold showers, the wailing willows, and both ends of the hockey stick.

Many who were there can still remember the stir created when we first saw this strikingly beautiful lady stepping out of her burgundy Honda Accord in front of the Pearman Calder dormitories to deposit young Brando. As soon as she left, a small delegation of fifth formers accosted Brando to find out if he had any available and of age sisters. Thanks to a negative response, most of us never spoke to him again for years.

Mrs Hayden’s deeper involvement with Munro started then and never stopped. She took an interest in all school activities and in the life of every single student who crossed her path, especially the troublemakers and those who came from humble backgrounds. Whenever a team or delegation of any kind went to Kingston, she was usually there, having first been involved in the fundraising and preparations.

The simple act of leaving school and entering the job market can be a traumatic process for young people and it is in this particular area that Mrs. Hayden had the biggest and most far-reaching impact on many Munronian lives. She became a “bridge over troubled waters.”

We don’t know exactly how she did it and how many she helped but a conservative estimate would be around 200 job placements, not counting the holiday jobs. One of the first two persons to benefit was Donovan Hinds who, after leaving school in June 1983 was in his first job by August. He was introduced to Mrs. Hayden after his best friend, Everol “Ginger” Smith, jokingly threatened Brando with bodily harm if he did not ask his “bank manager” mother to give him a job that summer. To Ginger’s shock and horror, the naïve Brando took him seriously and dutifully reported the threat to his mother. To Ginger’s pleasant surprise, however, she did not take the matter to the headmaster but instead arranged a meeting with him to see if he was serious about a job. The next question was whether anyone else was seeking a job, and the first name Ginger offered was Donovan Hinds. Both were placed at the Bank of Nova Scotia, and so the legend began.

Calbert “Bush Tea” Hanson tells how, in helping him get a holiday job, Mrs. Hayden went to the trouble of setting up a dummy interview to prepare him for the real one. Later that year when he was preparing to go to University in Trinidad, she turned up at his home with a suitcase full of new clothes which she had procured with the help of a friend.

Selwyn “Fish Tea” Davis was also a beneficiary of Mrs. Hayden’s generosity, receiving his first, second and third jobs after university through her. His wife also landed her first job out of university, thanks to Mrs Hayden and up to a year before she passed, she was busy giving job-hunting advice to one of his cousins.

When Tony Morrison moved to Kingston in 1993, Mrs. Hayden was one of the first to contact him, even after ten years of not seeing him. She then made it her duty to call to critique his work and encourage him to work even harder. She would also talk about Munro and encourage his involvement in the Old Boys’ Association, and to fill him in on Brando’s latest exploits. Tony explained that such was the measure of the lady that during the middle of job hunting, his computer died and she took him to her house to complete his resume and when that computer threatened to go to computer heaven, she took him to her mother’s house to finish the task.

The work Mrs Hayden did for such a vast number of Munronians, in each case going way beyond duty’s call and doing it quietly neither for monetary gain, praise nor fame, begs the question, why? The pattern of cheerful sacrifice is so unique that we must conclude that the ultimate spark is her own, perhaps inspired simply by how she was raised by parents who dedicated themselves to public service.

Being the eldest girl, also had the responsibility to help raise siblings who came after her, and who all grew up to occupy responsible leadership positions. The exposure, the kindness and her family’s leadership became an integral part of her DNA. Her Christian faith was expressed in her work, not advertised on her sleeve, and the Munro family benefited from her love.

Today, for the above and other reasons, we proudly induct, as an honorary member, Mrs. Sonia Jacqueline Hayden into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.

Posted on: April 21st, 2023