Am glad to see that an auditorium has been named in memory of Russell “Chiste” Garcia. I only was around this little titan for three months at Central Farm back in 1972 but think I got to know his essence. He was a people’s person, easy to get along with, in spite of his “braggadociousness.”
“How you like the lee buay? Ain’t I pretty?” were his usual greetings. First time I heard such things and laughed. He also would brag to me about his friendship with the powerful Bricenio Brothers when he was in Orange Walk, especially with “Charro”.
His short but muscular body made him an all-around athlete, thus he was aptly nicknamed “Maciste,” like the gladiator in the movies. He could excel at football, basketball and even rugby, if you can call it what we played one evening on the football field at the Farm. An almost six foot tall and well-built guy named Perriott, not sure if his first name was Harold, went on a one on one with “Machiste” and it was a beaut. This is a game where you take the ball in your hands and run with it to the goal while the opponent tries to stop you or get the ball away. Man, they were like two racehorses. Can’t remember who won that one but they were both excellent athletes.
Being a Lynam graduate like most at the Farm, he professed his love for that school and I think he reopened it during his tenure as a Minister of Government.
When I first heard he joined the political sector I knew he would be successful because of his outgoing character.
After we left Central Farm I only saw him physically twice. Once at a football game at the B.S.I. football field where he was playing with the P.G. Selection. The second and last time I saw him was as a Minister inaugurating the Quarantine Building at the Northern Border, if it could be called that. He no longer looked like the “Maciste” of old. He was now a Minister and can’t tell if that took a toll on him but he didn’t look happy-go-lucky any more. A few years later I heard he was sick and then passed away.
R.I.P., “Chiste”. Hope you are still the “Lee Buay” there.