Mike R.C. Schwartz (1958–1965)
Mike boarded at QEH from 1958-1965 and was known by many as ‘Blacky’. Mike was in Birds House and played rugby for both house and school. After A levels Mike went on to study engineering at Birmingham University. Whilst there he also learned to fly, once being asked why he was off the scheduled flight plan - he’d been chasing a rainbow that kept moving away from him! Not that this was put in the flight log.
After university Mike joined Aérospatiale in Toulouse as Production Liaison Officer for engineering production of Concorde being a fluent speaker of French and an engineer he’d found his new home and lived near to Toulouse for many years. He would often fly to Bristol and discuss production engineering with the guys at British Aerospace and relay information back and forth between the two manufacturing bases.
Once Concorde was operational he was no longer needed and he found new employment with Air Jamaica as Maintenance Manager. This led him to moving to Jamaica where he bought Windsor Great House way up in Cockpit Country. When his contract with Air Jamaica finished he went into general engineering work, contract maintenance on beaches and could turn his hand to most things.
Then ‘things’ changed. He fell in love with his new found land and home of Jamaica and slowly, but surely, became an environmentalist. Windsor Great House became Windsor Research Station and the work turned to the flora & fauna, the bats, worms, snakes and mosquitoes. Visiting him from many countries came researchers who stayed and studied, there’s even a mosquito named after him. Such fame and glory!
Mike fought a long battle against the incursion of corporate bulldozers that were trying by fair means or foul to extract bauxite from the hills of Cockpit Country - eventually persuading the Jamaican Government to place a protective boundary against the mining - though many still tried!
A tribute to Mike in the Jamaican Gleaner described Mike as “bluntly honest, passionate and pragmatic”
The Jamaica Environment Trust have worked with Mike, and his partner Dr Susan Koenig, since 2006. They said that his best contribution was to the people of Cockpit Country, he drove miles and spoke with people in groups large and small, in rum shops ( he did like his rum!), churches and school yards. Without his work the boundary is doubtful.
Mike’s memory lives on in Jamaica where he was loved, liked and respected by friends, neighbours, scientists, researchers, charitable institutions and officials - even by the local police!
From an avid biker, rebel and engineer to an environmentalist of note – Mike has left this world, Jamaica especially, in a better place. His legacy will live on.
Roy Schwartz Also at QEH, 1965-1970