S: Patricia Ellen Charles
BC: HRH PRODUCTIONS | Celebrating the Life of Patricia Ellen Charles
1: A few of my favourite things....
2: Growing up
3: The Early Years
4: My Dearly Beloved: Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Friend....Mentor...Bam!
5: I love you always and in all ways
10: Through the years...
20: In the News
32: Patricia Charles: A Pioneer Passed On Castries, February 25, 2010: The arts, education and cultural communities of Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean received the saddening news last evening of the passing of one of its stalwarts, Patricia Ellen Charles who died yesterday at the Tapion Hospital after a three month illness. She was 73 years old. Pat Charles (nee Griffin) was born in Brooklyn, New York and educated in Ontario, Canada. She moved to Saint Lucia in 1959, having married Ferrel ‘Bam’ Charles, son of Saint Lucian entrepreneur Sir J.Q. Charles. The broad spectrum of her impact on country and community began with her role as a tutor of English and History at St. Joseph’s Convent, and extended over half a century of unstinting service in the fields of education, training, community management, arts, culture, small business development and sport. She served for 13 years as Resident Tutor at Saint Lucia’s Extra Mural Department of the University of the West Indies. During her tenure at Extra Mural, now the UWI Open Campus, Mrs. Charles oversaw the institution’s growth, expansion and eventual relocation from downtown Castries to its own premises at the University Centre at Morne Fortune. There she saw the advent of satellite communication for long distance teaching under the UWIDITE program. Her tenure as Resident Tutor ended in 1978. Her immersion in the artistic life of Saint Lucia begun with the formation of the Creative and Performing Arts Society (CPAS) in 1966. There, she held the office of General Secretary for some seven years and organized a multitude of art exhibitions and workshops in drama, dance and the visual arts. For several years she mobilized contingents of Saint Lucians to attend Extra Mural Summer Sessions at Trinidad’s School of Creative Arts. At home, she saw to the mounting of a two-week festival of arts featuring dramatic productions and exhibitions held in communities island-wide. Her stewardship also helped to shape Saint Lucia’s participation at many early editions of Carifesta, the region’s premier exposition of art and culture. She subsequently chaired the M&C Fine Arts Awards Council where she served for 25 years. Pat Charles was a founder of the Caribbean Research Centre (CRC), and served as its Executive Director until 1992. During its early years, the organization initiated a literacy training project which was eventually adopted at national level by the Ministry of Education. The CRC expanded its development mandate in 1984 to become the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) which to this day continues its valuable work in social research, business development and training. Its primary role remains the support of the micro-enterprise sector through loans and technical assistance; the first organization in Saint Lucia devoted to this cause. She retired from NRDF in 1992. For six years thereafter until 1999, Mrs. Charles assumed the post of Executive Director of the Saint Lucia National Trust and devoted her indefatigable drive and dynamism to the evolution of that institution as an early pioneer of heritage tourism. Long after her retirement from that post, she remained actively committed to the mandate of the Trust and continued to serve as the chief resource person and coordinator for several regional seminars and projects regarding the management of heritage sites and attractions.
33: Pat Charles also served for many years on the governing council of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, CANARI. Her love for Saint Lucia’s cultural landscape led her to many years service at the Folk Research Centre, where she served on the Board of Directors, and as a volunteer Accounts Manager. Her energies in the field of cultural preservation influenced the work the international organization Banzil Kweyol which networked creole speaking cultures around the world. She was a founding member of the Jubilee Trust Fund (JTF) originated by Monsignor Dr. Patrick Anthony. Along with Saint Lucian poet and journalist John Robert Lee, she co-produced JTFs published works including Roseau Valley & Other Poems for Brother George. She remained a JTF trustee until her passing. In 2001 she became the first Chairperson of the newly created Cultural Development Foundation (CDF). Its mandate was to implement the National Cultural Policy, in the drafting of which Mrs. Charles had played a lead role. Under her leadership, CDF organized the second phase of the M&C Fine Arts Awards program and oversaw the production of such seminal works as Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an anthology of reviews, and the stage productions Sarafina and Banjo Man. She also helped to shape CDF’s renewed role in national carnival celebrations. In 2006, she opted not to renew her tenure at CDF so that she might devote herself to home and family. However, unaccustomed as she was to dispassionate existence, she re-committed herself to the organizational needs of Saint Lucia’s nascent swimming community centered at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre (RHAC). Surrounded by her grandsons and an extended family of young swimmers and their parents, she helped organize meets and overseas tours, managed club travel, and ran colourful commentary during regional meets. In 2007 Pat Charles received the Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction (Canada) for her lifetime of teaching and volunteer work in Saint Lucia, and in effect, for epitomizing the institution’s mission “ to educate women who change the world.” Pat Charles’ selfless and inspiring dedication to the promotion of Saint Lucia’s cultural heritage earned her many national awards. Among these, the 1992 Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Development of Arts; the 1993 Les Pitons Gold Medal presented by the Government of Saint Lucia; and the 1998 Medallion for Long and Meritorious Service to the University of the West Indies. Just four days before her passing she was honored by the Ministry of Social Transformation, Youth and Sports, for her outstanding contribution to the administration of swimming in Saint Lucia. Mrs Pat Charles is survived by her husband, noted musician, cricketer, and business leader Ferrel “Bam” Charles, her daughters Linda Augier and Eva Lewis, her son Gordon Charles and her eight grandchildren. She will long be remembered by the many persons from all walks of life, both here and abroad, whose lives she touched and typically changed, in profound and meaningful ways. For my personal experience, in working with Pat, especially as a member of the CDF Board, I saw a glimpse of her strength. Being on the Board of any of these kind of organizations isn’t easy at the best of times, but with low budgets, and very diverse calls on limited resources, well, there’s plenty that requires a strong will and even hand. Although not unsurprisingly, you could see a certain tiredness in Pat, you never failed to see the dedication. There was no shortfall of effort or perseverance to overcome obstacles and get the tasks of the day done no matter what obstacles presented themselves. Pat I believe, was also an indisputable example that origin and colour pale in deference to the serendipitously genuine affinity and love for an adopted Caribbean home .....written by Barbara Jacobs
34: Statement by: Prime Minister The Honourable Stephenson King at The Tribute Forum For The Late Patricia Ellen Charles and the Launch of The Pat Charles Endowment For The Arts March 04, 2010 At The Sandals Regency, La Toc Permit me Mr. Chairman to begin by extending on behalf of the government and people of Saint Lucia, and on my own behalf, our deepest sympathy, to the family, friends and loved ones of the late Patricia Ellen Charles, affectionately known as “Pat”, on her passing. On occasions like these, words on their own can hardly serve as comfort as you ponder on the loss of one so loved, so cherished, so dear; one who has touched so many lives, brought happiness, laughter, to numerous persons, the full extent of which we may never know; but at least to some extent one can find solace in the knowledge that hers was a life that has been lived to the fullest, in all its splendour, in all its sincerity, in all its humanity, dignity and abiding love for others. Patricia Ellen Charles, may not have been born in Saint Lucia, her naval strings may not have been buried here to use the local saying, but Pat, epitomized everything Saint Lucian; every bone in her body, every sinew, reflected a “Saint Lucianess” that we would do well if we were able to inculcate even a fraction of in the next and future generations of Saint Lucians. 1959; the year of my birth, was to mark a turning point in the life of Pat Charles, for that was the year; that having married “Bam”, she set out on a journey that would take her to a new life, a new environment. In a sense, she was setting out on a journey into the unknown, but, as was later to become so typical of her, she embarked on this new road full of optimism and purpose, determined to find her own niche in her new home. Much has been said already this morning of her contribution to the arts and culture, by persons much more eminently qualified than me to do so; as so many of you have been her colleagues and have partnered and traveled with her along this journey. But whether it be the arts, culture, education, or sports, all areas in which her contribution has been legendary, it has been her overall impact on national development, and the use of these avenues as vehicles for furthering the development of people, and by extension her country, that to my mind underpin her many achievements. Pat Charles exuded confidence, humanity, compassion, love, vision, creativity and an abundance of energy. Whatever she did, she set out to do it well - there were no short cuts, no quick fixes. The pursuit of excellence is what was always her objective and was reflected in all that she did. Her record of public service stands out as eloquent testimony and the legacy that she has left is one we can all be proud of. The launching of the Pat Charles endowment for the arts today is therefore a fitting tribute to her legacy and her memory. It should serve as a small token of our appreciation for all that she has done for Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians more particularly in the areas of arts and culture. The government of Saint Lucia is indeed very grateful for the contribution that Pat Charles has made to our development. We therefore welcome the launch of this endowment in her name and to underline our whole-hearted support. Government therefore pledges to make a significant contribution to this fund, and in this regard it is my pleasure to announce a commitment of EC$100,000.00 as part of our initial investment towards the development of the cultural industries. Her work must be continued and her efforts must not be in vain. May her soul rest in peace.
35: Death of Mrs Patricia Charles, Former Resident Tutor, Saint Lucia For Release Upon Receipt - March 2, 2010 St. Augustine It is with deep sadness that the Open Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) has learnt of the death of Mrs. Patricia Charles, the former Resident Tutor of the University Centre in St Lucia on February 24, 2010 after a short illness. After moving from Canada to St Lucia with her husband, Ferrel “Bam’ Charles in 1959, Mrs. Charles joined the staff of the then Extra-Mural Department of The UWI in 1963 and began her career in the regional higher education system as The UWI’s fourth Resident Tutor in St Lucia, until her retirement in 1977. Mrs. Charles completed her BA in General Arts at Brescia in 1958 and earned a Masters in Education in Adult Education from the University of Toronto in 1978. She was the recipient of the 2007 Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction from her alma mater. Through The UWI, Mrs. Charles became deeply involved in development work in her adopted homeland, especially with her focus on drama and dance. According to the book, Breaking Down the Walls (2007), Mrs. Charles and other Resident Tutors in the Eastern Caribbean, played leading roles on committees organised to celebrate semi-independence from Britain. In the case of St Lucia, she worked on a committee which prepared a simplified form of the constitution for schools. During her early years as Resident Tutor, Mrs. Charles served on numerous local committees, including the planning committee for Roddy Walcott’s St Lucia Drama Festival in 1965, the St. Lucia Archaeological and Historical Society and the Alliance Franaise. Many of the projects spearheaded during her tenure at the Extra-Mural Department were taken over by other local bodies and associations, which allowed the Department to turn to new projects. In 1966, the Creative and Performing Arts Society was formed in St Lucia, primarily as a training operation, supported by Mrs. Charles through the Extra-Mural Department. The group produced indigenous and British plays until the society was replaced in 1974 by the Folk Research Centre. She was instrumental in founding the National Research Development Foundation on the island, an organization which continues to engage in and monitor research being undertaken in the country. She was a member of the Open Campus Council from 2007-2009 and was Chair of The UWI Open Campus St Lucia Advisory Committee at the time of her passing. Her last experience with the Open Campus was her attendance at the October 16, 2010 induction ceremony for the Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Open Campus. At that ceremony the Principal paid tribute to Mrs. Charles for instilling in her and other students at the St. Joseph’s Convent a love for literature and the theatre arts and teaching them to the tools of critical analysis and to be critical thinkers. Mrs. Charles has had a lasting and positive impact on many lives across the Caribbean region. The Open Campus in general and the Head and staff of Open Campus Saint Lucia in particular, mourn her passing, and extend condolences to her husband, children, family and friends.
36: Tribute by Pro Vice Chancellor Hazel Simmons McDonald Tribute to Patricia Ellen Charles 1936 – 2010 On a day in 1962, Form 3A at St. Joseph’s Convent sat waiting for the new teacher who had arrived on the island four years before as the young wife of Ferrel ‘Bam’ Charles. Earlier we had heard from a classmate, Beverley Anne, who was close to the family that she was attractive, and my parents who had attended the function that her parents-in-law, Joseph Quentin and Albertha Charles, had held to introduce her to their circle of friends had confirmed that she was gracious, intelligent and beautiful. Those few details were sufficient to fire the imaginations of skittish and fanciful thirteen year olds who used them to weave an intricate fabric of mystery and romance around this young scholar from Brescia College of the University of Western Ontario who had left the family circle of her parents Daniel and Dorothy Griffin and her siblings Linda, Jacquie and Cary to embrace a life of adventure on a far flung island in the Caribbean. Her new family and siblings in law: Kushu, Baba, Jocelyn and Toni warmly welcomed her. The island too welcomed her, accepting her generous service, her selfless giving to improve the quality of education, to build a deeper appreciation for the arts and to instil in us a love of learning. On that day in January when Patricia Ellen Charles walked into 3A our attitudes to learning changed and the lives of many of us would never be the same. She taught us to appreciate the structure of language by setting parsing exercises and insisting on explanations that would reveal whether we understood the relationship of the parts through the deconstruction of the whole and to vary meaning by manipulating the parts in various ways to reconstruct the string differently. Under her tutelage poetry reading became an interesting exercise. In that first lesson she read a poem which she invited us to discuss. I remember selected lines that she read aloud in lilting accented tones although I have forgotten the name of the poet. She read: “And still they gazed and still the wonder grew / that one small head could carry all he knew...” and she wanted us to say who was being referred to in these lines – so began the journey of learning about allusions, figures of speech, reading for deeper meaning and doing critical analysis. By the end of the second term she had orchestrated a choral reading in which the class presented Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner for open day and by the end of the third term she had directed a group of us in Sheridan’s Lady Silverlocks which was staged for speech day for our parents and later for the public. Her influence extended beyond the classroom. She took an interest in the Guide troop and offered to teach us to swim so we could earn the swimming badge. We would go to Vigie or Choc near the jetty opposite Rat Island on a Saturday afternoon for swimming lessons. On the very first day we quickly learned that our showy flailing of arms and swishing of head from side to side was not swimming. She taught us the coordinated movements of arms and legs and the economical head movements and controlled breathing that resulted in a graceful glide through the water. For Pat swimming was an art and, as she would say, a necessity if one lived on an island. A year later, in 1963 she left the convent to take up a post as the 4th Resident Tutor at the University’s Extra Mural Department where she increased the course offerings and expanded opportunities for continuing education. She subsequently supervised the relocation
37: of the Department from its confined spaces on the third floor of a building on Manoel Street to the Centre at the Morne in which spacious surroundings she was able to better promote the creative arts and the educational programmes she wanted the Centre to offer, and she began the task of expanding the library holdings with the limited resources that were allocated to the teaching and learning vote. She used the space at the back of the Centre for rehearsals and one of her goals was to improve upon the natural semi-circular shape of the ridge to build an amphitheatre. She took a personal interest in the well-being of young scholars, like Lawrence Carrington, who came to St. Lucia to do research on the language, or some aspect of the culture of the island. Life at the Extra Mural Department, later the School of Continuing Studies, flourished during the years of her stewardship. She became deeply involved in the Creative Arts and was instrumental in the creation and establishment of the Creative and Performing Arts Society which promoted dance, drama and a choir for which she roped the services of Bam and Mr. Leton Thomas and which staged several wonderful annual concerts in the Castries Town Hall. She provided much of the scaffolding for Roddy Walcott’s Drama Festival in 1965. She herself would direct a group of young actors when we returned from University in the early 70s in the staging of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Introducing us to the Stanislavski method, she coached us on the importance of getting into character. She could get very upset when the stubbornness of one or other member of the cast threatened to jeopardise the integrity of the play. I remember on one occasion in rehearsal she stopped the action, walked up to the stage, pointed at two actors and said; “You are not Pearlette Louisy; you are not Stanley Reid. You are Benetha and you are Asagai. Benetha and Asagai are in love and she kisses him. You will kiss Asagai. Get into character!” The pouting of our dear Governor General to be was evident for the rest of the rehearsal but she, as Benetha, did kiss a delighted Stanley Reid as Asagai. Pat gave service as Resident Tutor for fourteen years and during that time she contributed in a significant way to the work of several committees that played a critical and leading role in educational, social and cultural development on the island. She was a pivotal member of the Archaeological and Historical Society as well as the Alliance Franaise and, as were several other Resident Tutors, she was a founding member of the Caribbean Regional Council for Adult Education (CARCAE). Through her involvement in these organisations and several other committees Pat was able to increase and diversify the activities and the slate of programmes offered at the Extra Mural, using the Centre as a focal point for presenting public lectures and promoting seminars on the history, folklore and the constitution of the island among other topics. Under her stewardship the Centre was a hive of activity and she mentored many young students and gave us opportunities to teach classes, to tutor and in some instances to act for her on those rare occasions when she would take a short vacation in July or August. As Resident Tutor she was a master at multitasking and she performed many varied functions. She was educator, public speaker, advisor to the Ministry of Education; she was counsellor to students, accountant, artistic director and much more. One realised how accomplished she was and what a tremendous challenge it was to fill her shoes on those occasions when one had to act for her. On one such occasion she gave me careful instructions as to what I should do. One of the tasks was to reconcile the accounts and send them to Mona. I dutifully did what I thought represented reconciliation of the accounts and I sent them off. A couple weeks later a call came from Mona to say that the accounts were not reconciled. I again did what I thought was reconciliation and sent off the accounts and got the same response from Mona.
38: In desperation, I called Pat. “What do you mean they’re not reconciled?” She asked. I explained what I had done and apologised for calling her. She never minded calls related to the work of the Centre when she was on leave and she would often call herself to find out how things were going; but I always considered it an imposition and inconsiderate to disturb her on her leave. She suggested that I call an accountant to help and I did so. He came, said the accounts were reconciled and I sent them off. The result was the same. I called Pat once again. She turned up one morning, collected the books, sat in the outer office for two hours, sent off the accounts and there were no more phone calls from Mona. I have since understood the convolutions of UWIs departmental accounts, but what was for me and the accountant– a confusing task, was to Pat an easy exercise which she breezed through efficiently. We always wondered how she seemed to be able to manage so many things so effortlessly. She was particular about time she needed to spend with her children and there were occasions when she would ask us to stop by her house at the end of the day to drop off material she had left us to work with because she needed to leave to get home to the children. She would drive off in her orange coloured Wolsey PC 141 and we understood that Police Constable 141 – as we fondly referred to her – had her rules and her family came first. When we stopped to leave whatever it was she had asked for, she would inevitably be sitting at the dining room table with Linda and Eva doing homework or she would be strolling up and down the patio with Gordon in her arms. Her children came first in everything. After Pat left the University in 1977 and completed a Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of Toronto in 1978, she undertook the formidable task of establishing the National Research Development Foundation which she developed into a solid institution and through which permissions for research to be done in St. Lucia were given and projects monitored. Pat insisted that copies of reports of any research that was done had to be left with the Foundation. In this way she ensured that a body of work would be available within the island as a resource for scholars. More recently, Pat was a member of the UWI Open Campus Council. She was elated at the establishment of the Open Campus which she saw as the natural evolution of the Extra Mural Departments and other outreach entities. She attended both Council meetings of the fledgling campus, first in St. Kitts in March 2008 and last year in Grenada. In 2007 she was the recipient of the Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction from her Alma Mater in recognition of her significant contribution to education and the Arts. We nominated Pat for a much deserved honorary award but the regulations do not permit members in active service with the University to receive certain types of awards. Last year I politely asked her whether she would mind stepping down from Council. She glared at me and asked “Why?” “I like being on Council” she said. Her full participation at meetings revealed that enjoyment. She contributed to discussions and during breaks she would draw me aside to remind me of some pertinent historical matter that had a bearing on a point of our discussions. She was a fount of knowledge and had a thorough understanding of the outreach sector of the University. I benefited immensely from her wisdom in this regard. A few months before her illness she gave in to my pestering and said “OK, I’ll step down from Council. I don’t know why you want this”, she said, handing me her updated CV “but I trust you.” I assured her then that it was for a good cause and she would be pleased. Unfortunately, she died before she would realise the full significance of my request. Last year at the Council meeting in Grenada, she was particularly happy because she said Marie Eve was in Grenada and would be stopping by at lunchtime. “You can’t go to lunch” she told me, “not until you see Marie Eve; you haven’t seen her since she was a little girl”.
39: So deprived of lunch I waited with Pat to meet Marie Eve. When the young lady walked into the room Pat’s face lighted up with joy. It is that same expression of joy she would have when she would speak about her grand children and give reports on what they were doing. She kept her friends informed about their progress, so I would learn of Jean Luc and Jordan’s swimming, about her not being able to undertake a particular project at a certain time because she would be going to Jamaica to spend time with Gillian, Jessica and Justine or how quickly Jaden and Justin were growing and she wanted to be sure that this or that which she had to do for one or the other of them had been done. She would let nothing interfere with what she said were her “grandmothering commitments”. Her grandchildren were her delight. Even though Pat had moved on to bigger pursuits when she left St. Joseph’s Convent she always maintained an interest in our development. When St. Lucia celebrated the occasion of its status of statehood in association with Britain, as then Resident Tutor she, on behalf of the planning committee, involved our Girl Guide and Ranger troupes in the celebrations. A couple had been invited from Martinique to teach us a medley of songs with accompanying dances that we were to perform in national costume on the wharf on the night the Queen’s vessel was due to leave. The rehearsals were gruelling because the tutors only had a couple weeks to teach us the songs and the dances. Pat would often stop by to watch the rehearsals. One day after a particularly lacklustre performance she called a few of us and said. “Why are you so lethargic? What do the words of the song mean?” The particular song to which she was referring began with the lines “Pas pléwé / pas jamais désspéwé / pas an jou si nou pa m / nou kay w la wenn viwé”. “What do the lines mean?” She asked then she translated the first two lines herself “’Do not cry and never despair’. It is a joyful song and dance” she said, “and you need to portray this” and she demonstrated how we were supposed to dance with joy. She was an accomplished and graceful dancer as we had discovered when she and Bam would take to the floor at the usual social at their house in Vigie, after a successful concert season by the Creative & Performing Arts Choir. It seems to me that Pat’s approach to life was reflected in that phrase, Pas pléwé pas jamais désspéwé. She never gave in to despair regardless of the many challenges she had to face in her professional life or the curve balls fate threw her way. She was resilient and hers was an indomitable spirit. When she set her mind to do something she was unwavering in her determination to get it done. She channelled her energies and focused her attention on making contributions that would improve the quality of life for our people. She was our beloved teacher when we were young third formers and to me, as I grew up, a valued mentor, colleague, and friend. We respected Pat for her integrity, we appreciated her forthrightness and her honesty; we valued her for her selflessness, loved her for her generosity and kindness. She never spoke ill of anyone no matter how hard done by she may have thought herself to be, by the actions of others. She was a committed and dedicated daughter of St. Lucia and she contributed immensely to the cultural, educational and social development of her adopted country. If we could hear her voice this afternoon I know we would hear her saying to us, Pas pléwé pas jamais désspéwé; Do not cry and never despair. And she would probably tweak the last two lines of the song and say “because though I am gone my spirit is with you.” And so it is; in the wonderful legacy that she has left, in her contributions to St. Lucia and the region through her service, in our fond memories of her and the place she has carved for herself in our hearts. Rest well dear friend. Hazel Simmons-McDonald 6th March 2010
40: Her Legacy Lives On