Beryl Jean Sue Wing passed away peacefully in her sleep in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on October 21, 2021, after a brief illness.
She was born in New York City in 1927, the last of nine children of TDE ‘Jack’ Hill and Lydia Caroline Hill (nee Gibson). She came to Trinidad as a young girl and attended Tranquility Methodist School.
A stalwart of Trinidad’s cultural scene from the 1950s through 2000s, Jean was a member of multiple drama groups including the Whitehall Players, Company of Players and Strolling Players, where she acted, stage-managed, directed, and produced several plays.
For 23 years she served as Cultural Officer in the then Ministry of Education and Culture, travelling the country, nurturing talent in the folk arts, and putting on concerts and cultural showcases for local as well as international audiences.
A dedicated, lifelong teacher, she taught drama, oratory, and literature to students at secondary schools and teacher training colleges throughout Trinidad, as well as English language at University of the West Indies, St Augustine, and School of Languages.
In retirement Jean remained a staunch cultural advocate, writing a series of features in the Trinidad and Tobago Review on prominent contributors to the development of the nation’s performing arts. She was an active supporter and honorary member of the Girl Guide movement.
She is survived by her four children, Judith and Jonathan Herbert, Leah Hill, and Ian Sue Wing, two grandsons and three great grandchildren.
Sr Paula Andrew SJC pays tribute:
Jean was Drama Lecturer at teachers’ training colleges, among them, the former Catholic Women’s Training College, under the principalship of the late Sr Aloysius Ashby SJC. It is in the field of Religious Education, that I became a beneficiary of Jean’s generous service.
On my return to Trinidad after a year’s study at the Catechetical and Pastoral Centre, Mount Oliver, Dundalk, Ireland, I was invited to Jean’s home in Arima by the retiring Director of Catechesis, former Fr Terrance Julien. Terry, as he was familiarly known, introduced me to Jean and her husband, Audley. Terry introduced me to Jean as someone who would assist me in succeeding him in the post of Director of Catechesis for the then 133 Catholic primary schools.
Jean’s advice to me was, “Don’t ‘run your blood to water’ like Terry, driving all over the island. Why don’t you use your Catholic newspaper as a means of spreading the message of catechesis?”
At which point, Audley joined in, “No-one has asked me, but I can help”. And help he did, using his skills as a graphic artist at the Trinidad Guardian, as each month he prepared the layout or ‘mock- up’ of our four-page pull out, ‘Living in God’s Family’, named after the religion series used in schools.
The preparatory work for that publication was done at the then Cluny Centre, St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando. On November 30, 1976, the first Religious Education Workshop in Trinidad and Tobago was blessed and opened by the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin. Jean recalled the significance of that date in November, the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle, who in the scriptures, brought others to Jesus. We were sharing in that mission!
For years the Cluny Centre’s sign, designed by Audley, stood as a welcome of Good News for teachers and students of various ages. Audley paid a pivotal role in its functional design and interior décor, while Jean enhanced the office with suitable furnishings.
A variety of activities, including annual Calypso competitions based on the Living in God’s Family Programme, were undertaken. Library book selections drew readers of all ages. Training courses, production of lessons for students were planned. Religious functions were arranged by the late Sr Eugene Herrera SJC and me, with ready assistance from friendly teenage volunteers. A true community spirit prevailed.
All these activities provided material and focus for our ‘Living in God’s Family’ Catholic News’ pullout. Each month saw Sr Phyllis Wharfe SJC and me journey from Port of Spain to Arima and await Jean and Audley’s arrival after work.
After supper with the family, we embarked on the planning and preparation of the current issue and worked until its completion. Excellence in content and artistry achieved, Sr Phyllis and I, at around 10 p.m., headed for home, St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
The following day, Audley, after work, would present the material to the Trinidad Express for printing. I joined in the venture. Once initiated, I assumed that responsibility.
With the changes in society, concern for our safety grew. Jean suggested that I overnight and that was arranged. The following morning, I would set out for the Trinidad Express then to St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, until the next issue.
I am indebted to Jean and Audley for their tremendously generous assistance in the spreading of the Good News.
In the history of religious education in Trinidad and Tobago, Jean, a Methodist and Audley, an Anglican, have a special place. May God grant them both the joy of life eternal.