One of Southend's most prominent businessmen Harry Garon, who literally transformed the way Southend High Street and beyond did business, died on 31st October 1911 at the very young age of 49. His impact on the town is reflected here through a report from the Southend and Westcliff Graphic of his funeral.
The deep respect in which the late Mr Harry Garon was held by his fellow townspeople was given eloquent testimony to on Monday. Thousands of people were gathered along the route taken by the sad procession of mourners, headed by the long impressive lines of police and firemen from Southend and Leigh, and comprising the members and official of the corporation, about 250 employees of the firm, lifeboatmen, and representatives of such associations as the Chamber of Commerce, Westcliff Tradesmen's Association, Conservative Club, Masonic Hall Club, and the Water Works Company.
The chief mourners were: Messrs Harry, Frank and Percy Garon, sons; Messrs R W Steward, Charles Bayliss, George T Warren, R Smith and George Harvey, brothers-in-law; Messrs F E R and T Garon, and W and A Hunt, cousins.
Among the immediate friends of the deceased gentleman present wewre Dr S Bridger, Messrs F Gregson, W Baker, Lovell Warren, A Talbot, A Steel, JP, A Smith, Stanley Kraushaar, F Webster, A Nicholls (Paglesham), B Gardiner (East Hanningfield), Victor Steward, CH Bowmaker, E Morris, J Fabian, G Allen, S Smith, etc.
St Mary's Church, where the first part of the burial service was held was filled to overflowing. The officiating clergy were the Rev. F Dormer Pierce and the Rev. EA Milley.
The interior of the vault was lined with evergreens and white flowers. On the coffin, of polished oak, was the following inscription:
HARRY THOMAS GARON
Died 31st October, 1911
Aged 49 years
On Monday there was carried to his last resting place amidst the respectful silence and sorrow of thousands of his own people the mortal remains of Harry Garon. Whether it was in the company of the civic heads of the Borough or amongst the keen men of business in our midst, who are oftentimes crossing swords, or in the side path amongst the multitude whom he liked to serve, there was to be seen everywhere the countenance of a stifled tear. Even the great brawny firemen, who are the picture of force, and fitness, seemed as if disaster had overtaken them, and that they were for ever parting with a personality that had been their right hand staff in days gone by, while the very constables on the march looked as if they, too, wished to claim friendship.
Why all this respect, and sorrow? Southend was parting with one of her own sons. A noble son, who went out and in amongst them and worked, and played, and built, as no other son had worked and played, and built before. Whatever he put his hand to it was done with that indomitable will and driving power, and in such a thorough manner, that his life's work will stand out amidst the many forms of architecture as the symbol of push and thoroughness. And Southend was out on Monday to give a last token of respect to this man.
Harry Garon had many sterling qualities that appealed to sound sense. He despised cant in every form; hypocrisy was an unknown quantity in his nature. If at any time his horizon was crossed on the wrong side, there was no parleying or fencing. No polite phrasing to dim the vision, no viperous smile, and licking of the cheeks. Straight from the shoulder you got it. No person who ventured to throw down the glove to Harry Garon, but at once knew where he stood or lay. One could not help admiring such an adversary, even when feeling sore all over. It does many of us good to be told in plain English who, where, and what we are.
But underneath this brusque exterior, there beamed a great warm heart, ever ready to help. Many a poor woman, with rent and rates on the brain, the street or Union staring at her, had her cupboards replenished and heart made glad after telling her tale of trouble, and better days. Such acts of tenderness and kindness were known only to the hand that served.
I have met those who would have liked to throw a stone, or belittle his work. to all such, I would remind them of the Divine instruction "Man! know thyself."
Harry Garon never hid his weaknesses under a bushel. Whatever they were, the light of day was allowed to shine on them, and how readily we still are, to see the mote that is in our brother's eye, and turn the blind eye to the great soul of goodness.
Before the age of fifty was reached Harry Garon was commanded to lay down his mallet and trowel. His were not wealthy parents. His education was far behind what the poorest boy in our midst is compelled to take. His early years were a struggle to get a footing on even the first rung of the ladder. but once his foot was on, there was no holding the man, and by dint of strong individuality, sheer plodding, and determination to make circumstances his creature, he put together a business, that is an object lesson to those of the present and for the younger generation.
In business he was keen, shrewd, and honourable, and every bit a man. He passed to his last resting place amidst the love of those who worked with and best knew him. And his workmanship stands in our midst in noble memory.
May we not say "Well done."