Dick Lochan ‘was dedicated to the art of calypso’

Dick Lochan ‘was dedicated to the art of calypso’

January 22, 2017

He was funny, entertaining and just a joy to be around.

Cultural ambassador Dick Lochan, whose comedic monologues inspired laughter, succumbed to leukemia last week.

The calypsonian, folklorist, lyricist, author, educator and master of ceremonies was 68.

Historian and former Grenada ambassador to the United Nations Caldwell Taylor said Lochan was a tenured master of a transient art which is humour.

“His humour allowed us to not just express who we are, but it also gave us a sense of who we are and what our mission is,” said Taylor, a calypso monarch judge. “He also had an amazing ability to celebrate the moment. There was something very beautiful about him that we will all miss.”

Retired librarian and renowned storyteller Rita Cox said Lochan’s death leaves a huge void in the lives of all who knew him.

“I will remember Dick for his wisdom, laughter and understanding,” the Order of Canada member said. “He did a lot to bring people together and he will be missed for that.”

Former Caribana Arts Group (CGA) chair Henry “Cosmos” Gomez became aware of Lochan’s illness a few months ago.

“We were at an OCPA membership meeting when Dick announced he was stepping down as chair due to illness,” he recalled. “Everybody at that meeting was taken by surprise, particularly when he said the illness was very serious. His wife was also at that meeting and she confirmed that he was very sick.”

A retired high school principal and calypsonian, Gomez said Lochan deeply cared about Caribbean culture.

“That was even more evident when it came to calypso and carnival,” he added. “I will remember him for his effortless wit and just being a friend who was gentle, thoughtful, kind and extremely caring. Dick was a man of style and substance.”

An in-demand master of ceremonies, Lochan often shared a stage with entrepreneur/raconteur Itah Sadu.

“Dick was funny, professional and very generous of spirit,” she said. “One of my best moments with him, however, was on the Walk of Excellence when he brought his wife. He was so proud to be the marshal and engage with students. He took that role very seriously, he came early and he came every year.”

Started four years ago, the Walk of Excellence recognizes Grade 12 graduates from Westview Secondary School, C.W Jefferys Collegiate Institute and Downsview Secondary School who walk from Jefferys on Sentinel Ave. to York University.

Lochan migrated from Trinidad & Tobago in 1966 just months after graduating from St. Benedict’s College founded by Father Dom Basil Matthews.

“He instilled in me the true ideals of sound human values and what it takes to make positive contributions to society,” Lochan once said.

Those values resonated in everything Lochan did in his adopted homeland in the last five decades.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employee for 35 years before retiring in 2008 was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the federal agency with the 2002/3 Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) Program Award of Excellence and the 2005/6 CBSA Community Service Award.

The CCRA, which existed for four years until 2003, was split into the CBSA and Canada Revenue Agency.

Clevil James entered St. Benedict’s a year before Lochan graduated.

“We didn’t interact much at school because he was in a higher class than me,” the calypso monarch judge said. “It was not until I came here in the 1970s that I really got to know him. He was very devoted to the art of calypso and the backbone of OCPA.”

Lochan authored three books, ‘Doh Make Joke’, ‘Fuh True’ and ‘So It Go’ which were written in Caribbean dialect and produced two CDs – Juiceman and Unleashed – which received rave reviews.

In 2005, he and four-time calypso monarch and Juno Award winner John “Jayson” Perez started the ‘Pass the Torch School of Calypso Music’ to teach young children in the Malvern community all aspects of soca and calypso, including songwriting, rhyming and performing.

They met in the 1970s when Lochan interviewed him for a story published in the defunct Contrast newspaper.

“Dick was very encouraging, very unselfish and very dependable,” said Perez. “When you called on him for something, he always responded unhesitatingly. He meant so much to the ‘Pass the Torch’ program and the young people. It’s going to be hard going forward without him.”

Turned on to calypso at a young age while attending tents, Lochan sang his first calypso at a high school concert in San Fernando.

Singing under the sobriquet ‘D’Juiceman’, he made his OCPA calypso monarch debut in the mid-1990s and performed in the Kaiso Showcase Calypso tent. He returned to T & T annually for the Carnival season and was the runner-up in the 2010 Central Trinidad calypso monarch competition and a finalist in the twin-island republic 2014 National Humour Calypso Final.

The annual Caribbean Carnival Parade of the Bands, King & Queen of the Bands, Harbourfront Island Soul Festival’s Calypso Stars, the Calypso Monarch competition, the Caribbean Music Expo at the CNE and the Miami International Calypso Monarch competition were some of the events that Lochan served as Master of Ceremonies.

He has been recognized for his artistic excellence by several community organizations, including the Toronto Caribbean Children Foundation, the Associations of T & T Nationals (Ontario), Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens, West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre and the Scarborough Intercultural Initiatives Coalition.

Lochan is survived by his wife of 41 years, Frances, their children Michelle and Jennifer and six grandchildren.

“Dad was a true ambassador for Caribbean culture and he wanted to see it evolve,” said Michelle Lochan. “He was also committed to teaching people at all levels and a great family man.”

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