Thousands bid farewell to ‘Teacher Vertie’ in Chateau
November 25, 2016
Thousands bid farewell to ‘Teacher Vertie’ in Chateau

Thousands converged on Chateaubelair on Sunday to attend the funeral of Vertille Veneta Franklyn, popularly known as Teacher Vertie. The veteran educator and community pillar died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) on October 31, two days after she turned 60.

Vertie began her teaching career at age 14, as a student teacher at the Fitz-Hughes Government School (FGS), {{more}}then was transferred to the Chateaubelair Methodist School (CMS), following which she did another stint at FGS before returning to CMS.

Teacher Vertie did most of her teaching at the kindergarten level, so she was responsible for the early education of thousands of children during her 45 years of service.

Vertie grew up with her grandmother at Barracks Village, Chateaubelair, close to the hospital and became friends with the many health personnel who worked there over the years. Heather Roberts, who was a nurse at the hospital during the late 70s and now resides in the USA, told SEARCHLIGHT that she had to attend the funeral.

“I had to come; Vertie and I go way back and we’ve always stayed in touch; she was the loveliest person and I will miss her like crazy,” Roberts shared.

Vertie began living at Plan Village around 1984, where her now grown daughter Keron was born. She also raised Canuella and Cameron, Keron’s father’s children from a previous relationship.

Franklyn was a friend and mentor to many young girls from Fitz-Hughes and Petit Bordel, who would frequent her home at evenings and on weekends for sleepovers. Franklyn was a good cook and many flocked to her home to taste the various goodies she always had on hand; she would bake bread and cakes and deliver to various persons in the community. Franklyn, also a business woman, operated a grocery shop at Plan Village; she then later cooked and sold food at public and entertainment events throughout North Leeward.

Shandel Woods, who lives at Plan Village, said that Vertie was an inspiration to her and always looked out for her sons. Shandel organized a candlelight procession and memorial service which took place last Friday. The event was well attended, with the Rose Hall drummers providng music. The procession started at the aqueduct at Fitz-Hughes and ended at the Faith and Life Pentecostal Church, where the service took place; tributes in spoken word and songs were done to a capacity filled building.

Pastor Carlton Edwards officiated at the funeral service; the church was full to capacity, with persons spilling out into the street, all the way to Fitz-Hughes. Keron read the eulogy; tributes were done by Anna King, who now resides in the USA and was a former colleague of Franklyn when they taught at the CMS, along with Cameron, Lawrence Hooper and Edmie Charles, head teacher of the CMS.

Deborah Charles, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education (MOE), spoke on behalf of the MOE, while Wendy Bynoe represented the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union, of which Franklyn was a long-standing member.

The funeral procession was huge, with the Rose Bank Classic Drummers providing upbeat spiritual music. The many students whom Franklyn taught during her long career jostled to carry the casket, as more and more persons joined the procession along the way. Over 30 persons journeyed from the USA and around the region to attend the funeral, including Vida Gordon, Dulcie Walters/Liverpool, Spencer “Radix” Stephens, along with many siblings and other persons whose life had been touched by the friendly, compassionate, generous and smiling Teacher Vertie.