By Jeffrey D. Beysolow, II
Dear Friends of Papa (Kona),
I was touched to hear through my Aunty Miata that you were thinking of my father’s memory and wanted written words about his life. My one request is that his memory serves as a testament to who he was and not what he possessed materially or professionally. He lived a life that was centered around family, loving relationships and making connections with others. Upon meeting anyone for the first time, he would immediately greet that person with a “hello” or “how are you” in their native tongue or language. He treated everyone with respect, no matter what path in life they were from. He also kept in touch with everyone, friends and family and always had an encouraging word.
To begin my father’s story , I have to begin with the loving memories and stories he often spoke about. It all begins with his Papa (J. Daniel Beysolow) and his Mama (Sarah Maximore Beysolow). Kona was born on December 4, 1939.
Papa (J. Daniel Beysolow) was a deeply rooted family man and his wife and children were his paramount concern. He was a lawyer, trained through apprenticeship. He subsequently became the Circuit Judge of Cape Mount County. He understood the benefits of tutelage and took my father under his wings at a young age. He took him everywhere and shared lessons on life and professionalism at every step. He shared the whereabouts of where every family document and/or property was located. This may have been divine intervention. Kona’s Papa died when Kona was 16 on May 4, 1956.
Mama (Sarah Frances Maximore Beysolow) was the love of Kona’s life. She was a strict disciplinarian and was a constant eye and corrector of bad behavior. Despite her being stern, her loving comments, meals and expressions overrode every punishment. She would become a widow at an early age with 8 mouths to feed. Despite this setback, she would grow the family farm to 1000 workers and open KOJENTA INN (a bar restaurant located in Paynesville) that was a popular hot spot. In speaking with Mr. Willie Jones, he shared meeting Malcolm X at KOJENTA INN. KOJENTA was the abbreviation of 3 of her 8 children – Kona, Jenneh, and Taweh. The farm and KOJENTA Inn (now Aunty Miata’s residence) were the major source of support for her 8 children.
Kona started his early education at St. Patrick’s and often shared that Fulton Dunbar (now deceased) held his hand and helped navigate him around rocks to get to school on his first day. Kona, along with his 1st cousin, Lionel (Bliss) Keller would leave St. Patrick’s for boarding school in England at 16. After completion of his O levels, Kona would travel to the United States to continue his education at Boston University for a 4 year degree in Business Administration. In Boston, Kona would meet his wife, Faith Leonard. Faith and Kona would get married. The 1st child to the union was Jeffrey Daniel Beysolow II, followed by Maxine Facia Beysolow and then Masah Lyn Beysolow. Later in life Kona was blessed with two additional children, Churchill and Dadwah.
At 26 years old while training in Akron, Ohio for his job at Firestone, Kona would get the news on March 24, 1966 that his dear mama had passed. With this devastating news, Kona knew that Mama and his 7 siblings – Miata, Facia, Winston, Hawah, Bendu Jenneh, and Taweh (12 years old), were counting on him to come home and manage the family rubber farm and also take care of his younger siblings while working at Firestone. He returned home with his family, stepped in as a big brother and father figure to his younger siblings.
His professional life began as a Computer Analyst at Firestone Plantation Company working on its mainframe computer. He was promoted to Assistant Purchasing Manager and subsequently, Purchasing Manager. At his request in 1982 Firestone transferred Kona to its operations at the Free Port in Monrovia, in order to enable his son Jeffry to attend St. Patrick High School, his almamater. He retired from Firestone in 1986 and put his full time into managing his family rubber farm in Laketa and his own farm in Yehmen near Bong Mines.
Kona was affectionately called Borbor Kona or Uncle Kona. All of his siblings’ children always had access to him. They adored and loved him immensely. A visit would immediately erupt with chants of Borbor Kona or Uncle Kona. Every Sunday It was common to see a car full of Beysolow children and their friends pulling into the Compound to spend the day with family: cooking, laughing, drinking and swimming in Peazeh Creek. He passed away at John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland on December 20, 2020 at 5:27 a.m. May his soul and those of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace and light perpetual shine on them.