There was an abundance of tributes from a cross-section of the community expressing their final farewell to stalwart Theodore Skeete, whose life of giving was warmly reflected on at a memorial service on 19 November. Mr. Skeete was a humanitarian, educator, father, husband, and friend, and many took the opportunity to elaborate on how he impacted their lives.
Hon. Vance W. Amory, the Premier of Nevis, recalled that Mr. Skeete was a disciplinarian of the highest order, born out of the motto of the Boys Brigade “Sure and Steady.”
Hon. Amory said: “Theodore was a very inspirational and dedicated teacher, committed to making a difference in the lives of his students and challenging them to aspire to excellence as well… He was not a man of a few words, to put it mildly, he was very loquacious, never at a loss for words and loved to have a debate on any matter. He would hold his point with great tenacity right or wrong. He was a special and unique person who made a solid contribution to Nevis and left his influence on many of the students he taught. It is clear that Theodore Skeete has made a lasting impression on the people in the communities in which he lived and served.”
The Premier of Nevis added: “He has left “footprints on the sands of time” by using his God-given talents to serve others. He was not a perfect man but worked within the limits of his human imperfection to do good for human kind. That is an element of greatness. I am happy to have known him and to have learned from him as well. Even though we had differences of opinion on some matters, we retained that friendship forged over time, until his passing.”
Mr. Derrick Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA), stated that LICA is deeply appreciative for the contribution made to the organization by the late Theodore Skeete, who served as a Vice President.
Mr. Nicholas said: “Mr. Skeete was not only a former member of our Board, but an architect in crafting the Constitution for our organization. Mr. Skeete was a stickler for the way things were done. He was a just and fair minded cricket administrator. He cared deeply about our sport and even after he was no longer actively involved, still made time for both cricketers and administrators.”
Lion Marvin O. Grant MJF, 1st Vice-District Governor 60B-LIONS Clubs International in tribute stated that during the years that he had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Skeete, he found him to be a courteous, kind and genuine person. “Mr. Skeete always sought to accomplish his goals and was always willing to help others attain their goals. He was my president, Zone chairman and region chairman in the Lions Club of Tortola,” Lion Grant announced.
Ms. Yolande A. de Castro, President, Nevis Alliance Progressive Society (NAPS) said that as the founding President of NAPS Mr. Skeete worked tirelessly to make the Society a success since its inception in 2002. “The Society, under his leadership, has been instrumental in adopting the Alexandrina Maduro Primary School, and on a consistent basis made benevolent contributions to other schools in the BVI and Nevis, the Alexandra Hospital in Nevis as well as spearheaded numerous fundraising drives to address many other worthy causes. The last event he coordinated was NAPS 5th Anniversary celebration in April 2007. He became ill a few days later and never recovered. The following years, though he was ill, he continued to show interest in NAPS and looked forward to the members’ visits. In 2012 at the Society’s 10th Anniversary celebration, Mr. Skeete was honoured as being our first president.”
Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, Leader of the Opposition of the Virgin Islands, said: “This son of Nevis made significant contributions to the British Virgin Islands, in our primary schools, high school and the community college. He was a faithful church member in the Road Town Methodist Church and in the community. He worked hard to get the Nevis Alliance started and was its first president.”
Hon. Joseph W. Parry, Leader of the Nevis Reformation Party declared that Theodore worked hard always and was forever pursuing studies: “He had his disappointments later in his life as he discovered his qualification did not always convert into the level of promotions he expected, but it never slowed him down. As a community activist in Nevis and in the Virgin Islands he did his best to improve the young lives of the persons he touched. Finally, Theodore never forgot he was a Nevisian,” he said.
Hon. Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, OBE, Premier of the Virgin Islands, said that Mr. Skeete contributed significantly to the development of the Territory’s educational system and shaped some of the Territory’s best and brightest minds. “The Virgin Islands will be forever grateful. In keeping his memory alive, let each of us who call these beautiful islands our home continue to strive for educational and civic excellence. Let us remain committed to the development of our youth. Let us continue to embrace those who have joined us in calling the Virgin Islands home. By doing this we ensure that Mr. Skeete’s legacy forever remains with us,” Hon. Smith stated.
Hon. Myron V. Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture, noted that it is and will always be a sad occasion when a country loses an educator. Nevertheless, he said that as a country the BVI will hold on to those teachings and sage advice which Mr. Skeete imparted over the time he taught and interacted with many.
Mrs. Maisie L. Hendrickson-Skeete in her tribute to her husband said: “When we met some 39 years ago in February 1974, he said it was love at first sight. For me it was not but I was impressed with his level of intelligence and knowledge of topics, Bible inclusive. He relished in community service that sometimes required him to spend long periods away from home. Of course I would not be very happy and his response always would be “I cannot live selfishly.” “There are some people who bring great light to the world that even after they are gone the light remains and Theodore would be one. Sadly missed, would be quietly remembered every day, no longer to share in my life, our life but in my heart, our heart, he would always be,” she added.
The Late Theodore Skeete is survived by his Wife – Maisie; Sons — Brian, Tremis, and Mauyan Skeete in the USA; Daugher – Elcia Skeete in the USA; Grandsons – Chad and Lucas George in the USA; Brother – Joseph Walwyn in Nevis; Sister – Ilene Walwyn in St Croix, USVI; and many other relatives and friends too numerous to mention.
The publishers, management and staff of The Island Sun newspaper extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Theodore Skeete.