Alan Eyre world explorer, author, and missionary for the Christadelphians

Bro. Alan Eyre (May 3, 1930 – June 3, 2020) was buried Sat. June 13, 2020

On June 13, 2020, our community celebrated the life of one of our great writers and thinkers, Lawrence Alan Eyre, who went by the name of Alan and inspired many searchers of the truth, giving directions and learning them to read between the lines.

Alan Eyre world explorer, author, and missionary for the Christadelphians

He was a world explorer, author, and missionary for the Christadelphian (Brethren in Christ) faith. Born in Leeds, England on May 3, 1930, to Harold and Catherine Eyre – Alan is survived by his only brother Peter, his children John, Mervyn, Susanna and Jennifer, and our respective families. His beloved wife Mary, fell asleep in the Lord on October 30, 2004, leaving him quite the drifter, as she was his constant support, close companion and his anchor.

Jennifer Armond  writes about her father

Although his early life was quite challenging, his mother having grown up in an orphanage around the World War Two era, Alan was a superb scholar from the start. According to his eighth grade report card, he came first in a class of 46 students, with top grades in all subjects. According to Peter, he was bright and precocious as a youngster. At the age of 17 he showed the first signs of his adventurous spirit, when he packed his bags and left Yorkshire to go to London, where he met our mother.  Not too long thereafter, he followed his then mentor, Brother Alan Hayward, to Glasgow, Scotland. As this friend had previously witnessed for the church in Guyana, he was instrumental in influencing our father to travel to the West Indies.

In 1956, on his 26th birthday, our parents boarded the Reina Del Mar ship and sailed to Jamaica; where the people and beauty of the island captured his heart forever. He became Jamaican. His purpose was twofold – to spread the word of God by campaigning throughout the island and Caribbean, and to work with God’s creation, the earth, as a Surveyor, Geologist, Geographer and Environmentalist. He was fascinated by nature, discovering a fossil which was named for him, and as a cartographer around the 1960s contributed to the updated version of the map of Jamaica. I remember the days we would weave around the towns and countryside with a trumpet shaped loudspeaker on the roof, beckoning folks through the microphone to come out to the special meeting to the hear the Truth of the Lord’s Coming! People would gather under the village lamp light to listen to his charismatic call, to heed to the word of God. This is one of the ways the Christadelphian faith grew mid 1900’s.

His focus turned to his academic studies, emerging with a PHD in Geography. He was a forerunner in his field, with many papers and books being written about satellite mapping, pollution awareness,
deforestation, and shantytowns. He also had Jamaican publications, such as those on the Botanical
Gardens of Jamaica, The Cockpit Country, (which he proposed as a world heritage site), and an award
winning effort on the John Crow Mountains. He finally settled in Jamaica as a senior lecturer in the Geography Department of the University of the West Indies in 1970, which he had co-founded some years before.

Right above the University of the West Indies sprawls the majestic Blue Mountains, and in a remote little nook, between Guava Ridge and Content Gap, our father decided to build his own house. Guided by a village contractor he built a modest four bedroom home, with a wooden deck, Delco electric generator room, and a water tank. We were basically self-sufficient, with the extra trappings of a two-acre banana and coffee plantation, (I can remember him proudly baking the beans in the oven), and a huge chicken coop with approximately 150 fowls. The family vehicle was a very bumpy riding, army green, and rover, with back seats facing each other. We would usually be carrying a tin of diesel oil for the generator, or big bags of farmy smelling chicken feed, which would make me nauseous on the 45-minute journey from Papine along the very winding, precipitous road home. Although I took umbrage in those days to the rustic lifestyle, I look back today in admiration to the living choices of my father, the pioneer. That area is the most magical place on earth. We roamed those hills like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, our parents lost their home in the devastating Hurricane Gilbert.

 

Our father had a love for classical music and Christian hymns. On weekends, he would play picks from his vinyl (33) record collection, and happily hum around the house, as background music for his Saturday morning pancake making ritual. Bach was his favorite composer, and every now and again he would play Harry Belafonte, Louise Bennett, Vic Taylor and Bob Marley. The other cultural passion for him was photography. He owned many a quality camera over time and, as we didn’t have a TV growing up, viewing slide shows projected on to a sheet on the wall was as close as it got to movie time. We would have many a giggle in the activity.

For the next few decades, our parents lived in various locations. These included Gordon Town, St. Andrew; Ocho Rios, St. Ann; Canberra, Australia, and Little Cayman, Cayman Islands. During this time Dad continued his missionary work, including publishing the Caribbean Pioneer, a monthly Christadelphian magazine. They also quietly supported a number of young people in their careers and personal development. I have fond memories of my newborn son Jordan and I visiting them in Ocho Rios, going for swims in the sea, and enjoying delicious meals cooked by my precious mother. My favorite time of the year was Christmas, where we would all gather at John and Helen’s house in Coopers Hill to celebrate.

As you can see our father was a traveler. To show you how nomadic he was, I went to six different elementary schools in Jamaica, England, and the USA. A very special memory and life-changing experience for me was our epic family camping trip through the USA – from the Louisiana bayous to the Redwood forests of California.

Unfortunately, around 1994, things changed for the worse with the diagnosis of our mother’s debilitating neuropathy condition, coupled with Parkinson’s, while they lived in the Cayman Islands. It was a 10 -year downhill spiral, with our father constantly trying to find a cure for her. This ended with her in a nursing home in the UK, with our father watching over her, to ensure she was comfortable. Their love and support for each other was strong, faithful, and everlasting.

When Mary, his wife, succumbed to her illness in 2004, our father moved to Oxford and then later Birmingham. He was able to spend much more time with his dear brother Peter, and Peter’s wife Elizabeth, where their bond strengthened. His writings continued, and he fully embraced choir singing. He always did throw his heart and soul into singing; I recall feeling quite embarrassed in church when he sang louder than anyone else while swinging backwards and forward on his legs, head held high to the ceiling above.

From 2010 to 2015 while residing in England he made many visits to continue his witnessing in “The Truth” in Jamaica, along with trips to a number of other countries. It is said throughout his lifetime he visited 88 countries, and, according to his brother Peter, had a list of 33 addresses. Incredibly, his last trip was from Jamaica to New Zealand at the age of 85; where he gave talks to 8 different churches along the way. People were always ready to hear his captivating exhortations, as he was a colorful and skillful orator, and the highly respected author of two foundational Christadelphian books.

His final home was to be in his beloved Jamaica, amongst the love of his brothers and sisters in faith, and half of his family members. Sadly, after only one year of being back he experienced a devastating stroke that left him unable to walk or communicate efficiently. He entered Glos Nursing Home on February 2016 at the age of 86. He was blessed to receive his good friend and practical nurse Sister Coreen Thomas to care for him daily, and my brother Mervyn and his wife Sheerin to supervise his welfare. His favorite words for the next four years were “Oh God”. God was his rock, his purpose for living, and his comforter. He patiently waited another 4 years before the Master took him to rest. He fell asleep fearlessly. Knowing that he would be raised on the day of Jesus’ return, where he would joyfully greet the Prince of Peace, with the hope of entering the Kingdom of the Lord forevermore.

We as children have been left with profound and wonderful memories of our father. A man with strong spiritual faith, good values, amazing stories, and adventurous journeys. We believe that he provided us with a solid foundation from which we have grown and excelled in our lives. These same worthy characteristics have been passed on to his grandchildren, who are doing very well themselves. Rest well dear Dad. We are joyful knowing you lived a full, colourful and meaningful life – to the very end.

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