Errol Comma: ‘Always surrounded by kids everywhere he went’

This section includes both obituaries and memories. Honoring our loved ones who have died does not end immediately after their passing. We recognize that… so we’re extending our obituary section to include individuals who may have left a long time ago. If you want to remember someone who is gone, either recently or longer ago, please send a photo and a few sentences to mskymkemp@gmail.com.

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.

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15 comments

  • Errol, a great friend and mentor of the birth of our alternative community in the late 60’s early 70’s. My fondest and most beautiful memory of Errol was after moving from Whitethorn to the hills and being without a vehicle and having to go to the laundromat in Redway, Errol would stop at the top of the hill, toot his horn to signal he was headed to town and take me my laundry and kids to do our town chores. I will never forget the kindness this man offered me in some of my most down times. Always made me laugh til I cried, I will never forget him and his kindness will remain in my heart forever. Peace Errol.
    With Love,
    Lori

  • Errol was a very nice man. He is the father of a friend of mine, and he always treated all his kids friends with great respect. He always seemed genuinely interested in how I was, what I was up to and how my folks were doing. I feel confident Errol is doing his thing in a good place right now.

  • What a special friend Errol, his family, and his mother Edna, after she moved here,were. I have a lot of good memories of the family & community events we shared over the years.
    I was always honored to be his friend. Great chats all the time, what a mind! XOXO

  • I have such great memories of times spent with Errol and his family. My kids loved him a lot and I think all of us who knew him learned from him. He gave love and laughter to everyone. Those were the days my friends.

  • what a good guy…
    always remember him at the Sunday Whitethorn softball games,
    rolling up those red-haired joints,
    not sure if he actually played,
    he was very encouraging to local creative pursuits…
    adios amigo…

  • Ah…Errol and Aretha…who would have thought? He can play for her, she can sing for him. Somehow that’s comforting. Rest In Peace, loved ones.

  • Ah dear Errol, I treasure you, some of my best memories of Humbolt center on you and Laura. The planet is better for your walking upon it.

  • Errol. You will never be gone from my life, dear friend. That gap-toothed smile and infectious laugh will follow me forever. I know that your legacy of kindness and love will be carried on by those who knew you. You inspired me in life and death. Roll one up and save it for when we see each other again. “Nice, nice.” One love.

  • Erroll..Truly one of the founding fathers of our community. He was always ready with a kind helping hand for our little family, mainly patient, but sometimes with just the right sharp words to get an erring single mom back on track. He was so smart and funny and competent. I will be out of town for the memorial but send my love to the family. He’ll be remembered fondly.

  • Erroll was a part of Head Start and always willing to offer a hand. Although, I didn’t know him well, he was fondly thought of and would offer a hand when needed.

  • God rest a good man

  • RIP, Errol.

  • You beat the GREAT Jim Brown in the 400! RIP.

  • Michael Mizoguchi, M.D., and the Humboldt Medical Eye Associates Staff

    It was always a pleasure to see Errol in our office. We will really miss him, his always smiling face and easy demeanor. He was a real pleasure to take care of and will be sorely missed here at HMEA.

  • [Edit: Sara, if you have proof, why here? My email is mskymkemp@gmail.com]

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