Levi Croll, who does not know his parents, rose to national prominence this month when the island publicly conferred on him the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service to Community Development.
“I feel very proud – very very proud to be honoured for the work I have done,” he told The Beacon, following a virtual awards ceremony held on National Heroes Day, amid restrictions imposed to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Mr. Croll, who lives at Bog Walk in St. Catherine, received the award for more than four decades of voluntary service, which he rendered mainly to Linstead Primary and Junior High School, as well as Charlemont High School in Linstead, St. Catherine.
The 84-year-old was born and raised in the small community of Cash Hill, located nine miles from the town of Lucea – the capital of Hanover.
His mother, Esilda Croll, died when he was a few months old, and so he was raised by his maternal grandfather and uncles.
Mr. Croll wears his mother’s surname.
He said his maternal grandfather did not allow him to develop a relationship with his biological father, whom he still does not know.
Mr. Croll attended Mount Hannah Elementary School in Hanover – now known as Mount Hannah Primary School.
“After leaving school, there was no work, and so I decided that I have to leave Hanover to see if I could pick up a job,” he recalled.
He went to Kingston, but employment there was elusive. In 1955, Mr. Croll’s journey took him to Berwick – a district in Bog Walk, St. Catherine.
He eventually found part-time employment as a labourer at Alcan (now WINDALCO) bauxite company in the Ewarton area of St. Catherine.
In 1972, Mr. Croll found a job closer to home in Bog Walk. He worked as a labourer at Nestle Jamaica for three decades until he retired.
While at Nestle, he became a father.
He started to fall in love with Linstead Primary and Junior High School when his second child became enrolled at the institution.
Mr. Croll recalled that, in 1978, he became President of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) at the school – a position he still holds today, 42 years later.
While heading the PTA, the community stalwart also served as Chairman of the school board for 10 consecutive years, starting in about 1980.
Mr. Croll noted that three of his four children attended Linstead Primary. The last one left there in 1984.
“We have a very active PTA,” he told The Beacon, adding that his association executed various major projects without funding from Government.
Mr. Croll explained that, with monetary contributions from PTA members, the group, for example, built a classroom, constructed a wall around the school, build a guard post, and employed a security guard.
His leadership did not go unnoticed in the Linstead.
That’s the reason he ended up becoming President of the PTA also at Charlemont High School, which is located in Linstead. Mr. Croll served Charlemont for 10 years, starting in about 1988 when the institution was celebrating its 10th anniversary.
He stated that, although he cherished the time spent at Charlemont, the memories made at Linstead Primary School are some of his dearest.
“If I have my life to live over, I would go back to Linstead [Primary] School,” he emphasized.
“I told my children that, at my death, an offering must be taken at the church in aid of Linstead [Primary] School PTA. I love Linstead Primary dearly.”
Asked why he became involved in community service, Mr. Croll said: “I have a love for education; that’s the reason. I also love Linstead [Primary] School.”
He encouraged other people to become volunteers.
“When you do your best, it is not altogether monetary, but it gives you a respect in what you are doing for your country and your community,” he added.
Mr. Croll is married to Cassandra Wright Croll, who is 52 years his junior. “She love mi and mi love her. I am proud of her, and she is proud of me,” he declared.
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