Errol Comma: ‘Always surrounded by kids everywhere he went’
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We regret to announce the passing of our father and dear friend, Errol Comma. Errol passed peacefully in in his home surrounded by family and friends on August 6th after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Errol is survived by his wife, Laura, and his children Moses, Anne and Beni, and his brother Dennis. He had five grandchildren- Hugo , Rosa, Adam, Lily, and Max, and two great-grandchildren, Payton and Lennox. Errol was greatly comforted in his last years by his caregiver, Robyn, and his dog, Magic, who was constantly by his side.
Errol was born in Tobago, West Indies on December 7th, 1936. He moved to Port of Spain Trinidad where he excelled academically and as a record setting sprinter at Queen’s Royal College. After school, Errol came to the United States to join his mother. He served in the United States Army which provided him with a path to citizenship in the United States. Unfortunately, Errol’s introduction into this country was challenging as he was exposed to Jim Crow’s racist ways, and he never seemed to fully recover from this experience. He did continue to participate in track and field while enlisted in the Army and I can recall stories of him competing against the Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown. Errol lost to him in the 100 meter dash but beat him in his favorite distance the 400.
After the Army, Errol followed his mother, Edna, to New York where he drove a cab and worked in the library. While working at the library, he met our mother, Sara. The two of them, along with Moses, Adam and Anne left New York and made their way to California after a stop in Mexico. The 5 of them lived in San Francisco for a while around the summer of love. After stops in west Sonoma County, including living in a Tee Pee, they found their way to Humboldt County and bought land in Briceland and built a small home. Errol learned from locals and old timers how to butcher animals and live off the land and shared his many skills with his many friends as they built a community in the hills.
Errol was a self-taught musician and he played with Buddy Brown and the Hound dogs and also with the Earl Thomas Blues Band. He then met Laura and they eventually moved to Nicaragua where they lived and worked for about 10 years. During that time they taught English, and later worked with rural communities building water systems, planting trees, and school building projects.
After Nicaragua, Errol and Laura moved back to Humboldt County where Errol worked translating for Head Start and giving a voice to those who needed help. Errol was always surrounded by kids everywhere he went. He loved to encourage young people to try new things and he also liked to get kids riled up and make them laugh.
Errol will be greatly missed, but he left us with many great memories and his positive impact on several communities will be felt for years to come. A celebration of his life will be held at Benbow State Park on Sunday, August 26th at 1 pm. This will be a potluck, so please bring a side dish or desert to share as well as stories to share. Folding lawn chairs are also encouraged. If you like, memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice of the Redwoods, or The Arcata-Camoapa Sister City Project.