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Regal send-off for North Leeward’s first lady of farming

Regal send-off for North  Leeward’s first lady of farming

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Last Saturday was a sombre day in Chateaubelair, as one of its favourite daughters was laid to rest. Norgie Tucker — a teacher, mother, nurturer, farmer, philanthropist and church pillar – took her final journey with reverence and much respect.

Norgie lived a purposeful life; after attending the Chateaubelair Methodist School (CMS), she became a teacher at her alma mater at 13; she usually joked, “I went to school as a student and left as a teacher.”{{more}}

After leaving CMS, Norgie taught at the Troumaca Primary School until 1974, then worked as a clerk on the Land Settlement Estate at Richmond until its closure in 1982. Tucker also worked as an invigilator for Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and was supervisor for the North Leeward area.

In 1976, Norgie married Sydney Tucker, also a teacher, whom she met at a teacher’s event. They already had their two first children Orson and Edson, and six more were to follow: Allison, Rawlson, Colville, twins Leslyn and Leslie, then Brontie. Norgie also nurtured and mothered her younger siblings and other children from the community who would flock to her home at evenings and on weekends. In the Tucker’s household, education was a priority. Dillon Cordice, who lived with the family when his mother died in 1978, said, “You had to learn to cook, wash, go to church and do your part on the farm when you lived in mama’s house.”

Tucker was a staunch Methodist and served in many capacities within her church locally and nationally; she was president of the Chateaubelair Kingstown Circuit Women’s League and also Children’s Commission in charge of Sunday school as well as camp director. Tucker would raise funds to help disadvantaged children attend church camps and other events and would be first to welcome ministers and other church personnel and introduce them to the community when they came to serve in the Chateaubelair district. Tucker travelled extensively around the region on church and agricultural business and was the go to person for information and contacts within church circles.

After becoming a full-time farmer, Tucker was instrumental in forming many farmers’ organizations in North Leeward, nationally and in the region: Chateaubelair Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Onion Growers Association, Pineapple Growers Cooperative, SVG Network of Rural Women Producers, of which she was the first president. She was also the PRO of Caribbean Network of Rural Producers (CANROP), the regional umbrella which extended from Jamaica to Suriname, until 2015, when she took ill. Tucker was instrumental in setting up local chapters of CANROP in the various territories; she was also closely affiliated with the Taiwanese Agricultural Mission and visited Taiwan and received an award for her work in agriculture; she also received numerous awards and commendation locally and around the region for her work.

Norgie took ill in November 2014, and was diagnosed with cancer.

On October 3, the last day of her life, Tucker was surrounded by family, friends and church members, who had travelled from Kingstown and beyond to sing and pray with her at the Chateaubelair Hospital. When they broke off to eat, her husband Sydney went in for a private moment and that was when she took her last breath.

Tucker was buried last Saturday at the Fitz-Hughes cemetery; the funeral service took place at the Kingstown Methodist Church, with a full capacity seated captive audience. The sermon was delivered by Superintendent Adolph Davis, whom Tucker had mentored and encouraged during the early days of his ministry.

The tributes poured in from family, friends, colleagues, organizations and institutions throughout the region. The eulogy was delivered by daughter Leslyn, a teacher at the St Vincent Grammar School and her son, four-year-old Aaron, sang ‘You Lift Me Up’ in tribute to his grandmother, to a standing ovation from the audience.

Tributes were paid to Tucker by members of the agricultural community who had travelled from around the region, including Theresa Marryshow of Grenada’s Network of Rural Women Producers and Deborah Gill from the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWIA) of Barbados, of which she is vice-president.

Gill was too emotional to read her tribute; however, she told SEARCHLIGHT that she had met Tucker about 17 years ago at a meeting in Trinidad and they immediately became fast friends. “Norgie was dependable, helpful and full of knowledge and would visit me whenever she was in Barbados. I would call her every other day while she was undergoing treatment in the States.”

After the service in Kingstown, a procession of over 60 vehicles drove to Chateaubelair, where the gold and white casket was taken to the Chateaubelair Methodist Church for final viewing then carried to the Fitz-Hughes cemetery, with her sons and siblings taking turns.

The grave was totally covered with wreaths, leaving no space for candles, which were then placed around the grave. Before her passing, Norgie requested that no alcohol or boom drum music be present, but lots of food and juice be served.

Her cousin Cauldric ‘Badcock’ Nash, who travelled from Barbados to attend the funeral, told SEARCHLIGHT, “Not only was Norgie a talented and generous person, she was full of family history and would instantly recall any information pertaining to family; she was the centrepiece of our family, irreplaceable”.

The Tucker family expresses thanks and best wishes to all who joined with them, sent wreaths and condolence messages and attended the funeral. They extend special thanks to Dr Francis Murray and the staff of the Chateaubelair Hospital and the Methodist community.

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