Noel “Shines” King – Eulogy by Tony Hadley



I would like to thank Greta, Gene and Tracey for giving me this opportunity to eulogize a man who is family to some and friend to many.  While it is difficult to crystallize 64 years of life into just a few minutes I will attempt to do so having received assistance from persons who were also close to him.


Firstly, I would like to ask that we do not come to mourn today but to celebrate his life – the life of Noel Hughes Conway King more fondly known as “Shines” who was born 24th December 1939 at Sion Hill St.Vincent. Being born on Christmas Eve, his parents Gladstone and Dorothy King chose Noel as his first name. His Father was a pharmacist and Guitar player while his mother was a well known Nurse so there is no doubt that he received the very best medical care and the very best in love and guidance.  The Anglican school was the first one he attended under the tutelage of Head Master Thomas but with the knowledge that his Grandfather Edwin “Shaggy” King was the former Head Master.  


I am emphasizing this aspect because I believe that this heritage influenced choices he made in later life – in Music and Education.


In 1951 he entered the Ivy League of the Boys Grammar School along with his good friend Chris Stephens. Noel distinguished himself academically with a First Class Honors Cambridge Certificate and was awarded the only English Language Distinction among a class of 40 that included Cims Martin and Dr Errol King. He excelled as one of the top athletes culminating with the crowning achievement of being declared Victor Ludorum in 1958. He established records in the 60, 100 and 220 yard races which stood for quite a number of years. During this time and as a member of Grammar School Cadets he obtained the Class A and B badge showing great courage by climbing a treacherous cliff in Barbados to outwit his mock opponents.


While at Grammar school he took his love of Music to the Victoria Park to sing calypsos as Lord Shines. You must remember that singing calypsos in public as a Grammar School student would have been considered unbecoming. In addition to his calypso singing,  he became a founding member of the Kingstown Chorale Group and performed with them for over a year..


In 1956 he became a Ratho Mill Villager - a group of young people who enjoyed each other’s company of which I was a part. One Villager writes:  “He was not only intellectually superb but also will be remembered by the Villagers for his composition and the singing of his Calypso titled “The Villagers in Town”.  This period of time along with the formation of lifelong friendships, was extremely formative and from which many of us draw compassion, strength, a sense of fun and a positive outlook on life. These were fun years filled with adventure and mischievous pranks one of which was a moonlight raid of the Honorable Milton Cato’s mango grove which came to an abrupt and wild end when someone stuck their head in a Jack Spaniards nest. Yes, Noel was there. I think that the late and former Prime Minister Cato intentionally bred the Jack Spaniards as protection for his mangoes.


He began his life long love of being an educator in 1959 and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps.  His teaching career began at the St.Vincent Primary School before leaving for Trinidad to teach the next three years at the Eastern Boys Primary School.


In 1963 he migrated to Canada, started to work at Tam-O-Shanter while going to Sir George Williams University in the evenings. After a couple of years, he gave up his job and attended University on a full time basis so that he could realize his academic dream of a Bachelor’s Degree more quickly.


The weather records indicate that 1964 was a hot summer. During this hot weather, Noel dated Greta and a whirlwind romance culminated with Noel proposing and marrying Miss Greta Duncan in October of that year.  His son Gene was born in 1965 followed by Tracey his daughter in 1967. Both events were momentous occasions, a source of pride and joy for Noel and Greta.


In 1967 he started working with the Department of National Defense as a teacher of English until his retirement in 1995. His grateful students ranged from Civil Servants, Military people to Judges. During this period he was elected twice as President of the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal, first in 1972 for one year and again in 2000 until the present. Not only as President, but as a member, he worked passionately and tirelessly in the service of the Association and at the community at large.  One lady in a restaurant told me that Noel did not hesitate to write a letter for her when it was required.



 Throughout his life and especially here in Montreal he continued to nurture friendships through social activities and his continuation of Calypso singing as Lord Shines.  Some of those singing friends and a saxophonist were hired to do a calypso show at a high school somewhere in the outer reaches of Quebec.   They got lost going there, found their way, put on a very good show and got lost on their way back to Montreal.


On their way back from the show, the police pulled them over. They were asked if they had any alcohol or if they had been drinking.  They provided a satisfactory answer about the alcohol but it turned out they were driving on the wrong side of the road and heading away from Montreal.  With no ticket issued, an undisclosed and unopened bottle of Mount Gay in the glove compartment and now heading in the Montreal direction - a very nervous “Shines’ speaks up from the back seat: “I-i-i-   t-t-t-hought t-tt-they were g-g-going to t-t-throw us in the s-s-s-slammer!!!”.  He was even part of a group called “rent a party” who attended parties to fete and bring out the subdued dancing abilities from participating patrons. Some of you here today know to whom I refer.





His son Gene talks about the reel-to-reel tape recorder which his Father used to record parties. Using his professional recorder and his varied collection of music, Noel shared a love of music with his son and positively influenced him in a successful music career today. I have no doubt that he had a most positive influence on his daughter Tracey but perhaps in a different way.


Yes, he not only loved music but his family also. When his children moved down the 401 highway to Toronto, he made a trip down there to be with them every two weeks or at least once a month. What a Father’s Love!   With that knowledge of his love, I truly know that he would want them to minimize their sadness, continue to grow and continue to be good citizens of this earth.


As I approach the end of this celebration, I would like to share with you how Noel got to be known as Shines.  There are several theories but I know that I have the right one since he personally told me a few years ago. It all started as a youngster in McKies Hill when he was given a really close haircut. In those days there was no Brylcream so Vaseline or Cocoa butter was used to condition the scalp after the haircut – don’t forget his father was a pharmacist and his mother a nurse. His older brother GEK (Gladstone Edwin King) and my older brother Joscelyn were partners in mis-adventures and had to escape Noel who wanted to follow them. So as they were hiding from Noel and he was seeking them out, both saw Noel approaching them with this shiny scalp and my brother  said  “Here comes Shines” and the rest is history. 


In conclusion, I would like to impart two comforting messages – my own and the words of a famous hymn. My message is that let us continue to appreciate his life as a blessing and inspiration, and while it is normal to grieve for one that has gone ahead of us, I am sure that Noel Hughes Conway King would want us to carry on while keeping him alive in our hearts.


The 2nd message is and I quote:


“Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies, Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee. In life and death, O Lord, Abide with me”.



John Anthony (Tony) Hadley



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