Bryon George Chambers was born on December 19, 1943 in the Mount Salem section of Montego Bay where he attended primary, elementary school and proudly graduated from Cornwall College. His childhood friends fondly remember him as a track-and-field star and Olympic hopeful of the 100-yard race. His impressive scores led to high-profile competitions in several parishes on the island, including the Inter Secondary School Championship Race in Kingston. The well-rounded athlete also played soccer for the revered 1960 Cornwall College DaCosta Cup team. In his early 20’s he was invited to Tampa, Florida to represent Cornwall and present an award to his school’s beloved head master Everrol Barrett.
The sport that would most shape Byron’s adult life was cricket however. He migrated to The Bronx, New York in the winter of 1965 and was playing for the Wembley team of the New York Cricket League in Van Cortland Park by that summer. A bus driver by day, the ambitious young man took college courses at night and quickly became Buddy’s bus company’s union spokesperson. The born leader founded the Cornwall Cricket Club in 1968, months after his February marriage to young banker Valerie Ellis, who recalls him using some of their wedding gift money to rent the first Cornwall clubhouse on 212th St and White Plains Road.
In 1969, the young couple bought their first home on Givan Avenue in the Bronx. It was his vision, however, that the Cornwall clubhouse be a “home away from home” for West Indian-born cricketers, friends and their families--especially those from Montego Bay, since many of the League’s Jamaican players hailed from Kingston. All were welcome at Cornwall Club’s weekend action-packed fundraisers, awards events and holiday parties where hundreds danced to tunes spun on huge speakers by D.J. Bryon (aka “The Disco Kid”). They also ate lots of Valerie’s legendary curry goat dinners. At the Cornwall clubhouse, cricketers’ wives, friends and out-of-town competitors all had a ball.
In the early 70’s, Byron’s bus company union relationships and winning personality led to a short stint at Cox Chevrolet and a longer post as the first African-American salesman at DeMasi Cadillac in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. He quickly recruited other Cornwall members such as Winston Watt and Raphael Shantilou as coworkers. His hard-working wife Valerie opened a flower shop in Mount Vernon for a few years before the young family moved to Teaneck, New Jersey in 1977 for a better school public system for their sons Gordon and Brian. He crossed the bridge on weekends and remained active as a player on the team, continuing to serve as Cornwall Club President for ten years. He was elected to President of the New York Cricket League from 1986-1988 when he arranged for New York League teams to compete in Canada and California for the first time. He also leveraged his professional relationships to have his employer Demasi sponsor a trophy for annual games between the New York and Massachusetts.
In the late 80’s, Byron returned to the Bronx professionally as an Allstate insurance agent and began his athletic transition from cricket to golf. He remained active as a “President Emeritus” mentor to future presidents of the Cornwall Athletic Club--especially Clifford Hines and Joe Allen. His Dyre Avenue agency recently received at Honor Roll award from Allstate for 35 years of service to his largely West Indian client base in The Bronx. He and his wife Valerie also recently celebrated 50 years of marriage in February of 2018. They are the proud grandparents and great-grandparents.
Byron credits his much of his success in life to the qualities of brotherhood, friendship, teamwork and leadership he learned on the cricket fields of the Bronx. He dedicates tonight’s award to his mentor James Gabriel, the former President of the New York Cricket and lovingly remembers friends he shared hot summer days in all-white uniforms in Van Cortland Park on the Cornwall team who have transition such as Baldwin Coore, Cecil Dixon, Bim Christie, Paul Moore, Bobby Church, Patrick Sanford, Carl Buckley, Barry Ferguson, Vernon Scott, and Porter. Special thanks as well to the members of the Hartford Cricket Club for good times spent over the years and to God be the glory.