25 Most Prominent Men And Women OF The U.S.V.I    

Alton Adams      Aminta Clarita Natalia Burnett      David Canegata      Tim Duncan      Charles Emmanuel     

Alton Augustus Adams, SR.

Musician, Composer, Educator, Entrepreneur.
St. Thomas.
1889 - 1987

        The son of Jacob Henry and Petrina Dinzey Adams, Alton Augustus Adams, SR. was born on November 4, 1889, during the Danish owner ship of St. Thomas. The life of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr., has been described by his contemporaries as an "era" of its own. A self-educated man, he charted his own life as a distinguished bandmaster, composer, musician, journalist, educator, and hotelier.He received his early education at the Moravian Town School. An avid reader, he read all printed materials available to him including the King James Version of the Holy Bible.As a young boy, he showed a fascination with music and learned to play the flageolet, a gift from his grandmother in Copenhagen. He later mastered the flute, which became his favorite instrument. Convinced that music was his major interest, he decided to pursue a music education program and enrolled in correspondence courses in harmony and counterpoint offered by the University of Pennsylvania. He also studied at the School of Music Theory, Carnegie Hall, New York, and the Chicago University Extension Conservatory, Chicago, Illinois by correspondence. From the latter he received a bachelor's degree with emphasis on music history, esthetics, and public school music. During these studies, he was greatly influ enced by the noted organist and composer Hugh A. Clarke.In 1917, he married the former Ella Joseph and they had seven children--Alton, Jr., Gwendolyn, Enid Adams Questel, Olive Adams Finch, Althea, Eleanor Adams Martin, alld Hazel Adams.

        As a composer, he is best remembered for his 1912 "Diox 'rev d'armour," "Virgin Islands March," "Governors Own" and "The Spirit of the U.S. Navy." "The Virgin Islands March," originally written for Captain William R. White of the U.S. Navy on November 10,1919, was later arranged with lyrics from public contributions and adopted as the Virgin Islands Anthem by the Virgin Islands Legislature in June 1982. As a bandmaster, Adams was the guest artist of Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman and his son Richard, and conducted their bands on various occasions. The Goldman Band is comprised of master musicians of various symphony orchestras. Additionally, he received numerous letters and certificates of commendation from bandmasters and musical organizations in the United States. Adams is featured in Frank Seltzer's Galaxy of Famous Bandmasters in Brief.His march, "Governors Own," written for Naval Governor Joseph W. Oman, has been included on The Pride of A1nerica, the first album in the American Bicentennial celebration series on American music. The series also includes marches by John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman.

        Even though Adams did not enjoy the privileges of free education, he recognized the importance of a well-rounded education and the place of music in the curriculum. In 1918 he designed a music curriculum and presented it to the public school system. He was appointed the first music supervisor of St. Thomas (1918-1921). He later incorporated this earlier document into a revised course of study for elementary grades. Entitled "Course of Study for the Elementary Grades of the Virgin Islands of the U.S.A.," (1922), it was adopted as a formal tool in music education. Although not trained as a teacher, Mr. Adams placed teaching in high esteem. In 1985, upon his presentation of the manuscripts, chorus and piano arrangements of his "Virgin Islands March" to the Music Department of the University of the Virgin Islands, he remarked that "the noblest and highest thing a person can be is a teacher." As a hotelier, he turned his eighteenth century home into a guest house. He was a member of the V.I. Hotel Association and served as its energetic chairman for six years (1952-1958). In recognition of his contribution to the hotel industry, the St. Thomas St. John Hotel Association annually awards the "Alton A. Adams Scholarship" to a deserving resident. Adams also hosted a radio program, "Concert Hall," on which he entertained listeners with classical music. On May 7, 1978, Adams, almost ninety years old, travelled to Fisk University to accept an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. He also received the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor from the Sixteenth Legislature in 1983. In addition, he has been mentioned in numerous biographical references, such as Who's Who in Colored America, 1922; Dictionary of Caribbean Biography, Personalities, 1968; Who's Who in the South and Southwest; and Who's Who in Commerce and Industry. Alton Augustus Adams, Sr., died on November 23, 1987, in St. Thomas and is buried in the Western Cemetery.

Aminta Clarita Natalia Burnett

Attorney, Educator
St. Thomas.
1892 - 1977

        Aminta C. N. Burnet represents that group of Virgin Islanders who grew up during the period when it took courage and great wit to break down certain traditions or limitations. The daughter of Auguste, a merchant, and Caroline Mitchell Burnet, she was born on St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, October 1, 1892.In the 1940's few females of the territory dared to enter law school. Not only did Burnet earn a juris doctorate degree but she was admitted to practice law in New York City in 1946 and later in April, 1950, was certified as an attorney and counselor in the United States Supreme Court.In addition to her legal achievements, Burnet is also recognized as an outstanding educator of earlier times. Before going to the mainland, she was principal of the former Bethesda School on St. Thomas, which was located in the western end of Charlotte Amalie.

         She was also a teacher of opportunity classes at Public School 157 in Manhattan. She was such an effective teacher that she was nominated by her students in the Best Teacher contest in 1948, which she won.Even though Attorney Burnet lived most of her adult life in the continental United States, she nonetheless retained interest and contact with her homeland. As a member of the Federation of American Virgin Islands Societies, she assisted this group in maintaining a better relationship with the U.S. Department of Interior, the agency responsible for the affairs of U.S. territories. In this relationship she worked toward such improvements as increased appropriations for education, increased educational benefits for the masses, civil service appointments, and a resident commissioner in Washington. Her crusade for self-government for the islands ended with her death on February 7, 1977, in New York City.

David Cornelius Canegata

Legislator, Physician, Judge
St. Croix.
1887 - 1972

        The life of David Cornelius Canegata is intrinsically linked to the political develop ment of his homeland, the United States Virgin Islands. Born in St. Croix during Danish rule of the three islands, he lived through several constitutional reforms and as an active citizen even participated in shaping the local government as it progressed from the status of a colony to an unincorporated territory. He served with distinction in all three branches of government, contributing significantly to the development of each. Recognized as a scholar and a statesman, he had a list of reputable achievements to his credit. Among these are twenty-three years as a member of both the Colonial Council of St. Croix and the Municipal Council of St. Croix (1915-1938), and member of the Legislative Assembly serving on almost all important legislative committees. He was also the first native of St. Croix to serve as chairman of the Colonial Council and as chairman of the First Municipal Council under the 1936 Organic Act.

        He was born on St. Croix, Danish West Indies, on October 20, 1887, a son of James and Jane Gerard Canegata. He obtained his medical training from McGill University, Montreal, Canada where he earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. In 1911, he returned home to private practice but soon public service and to attend to crucial needs of his people. He was named Municipal Physician in 1931 and served until 1935. During these years he worked tirelessly to eradicate many community diseases.He also served as Police Judge (March, 1930 - June, 1931), Police Judge for Frederiksted (July, 1936 - June, 1942), Police Judge and Coroner for St. Croix (1942 -1952), Municipal Physician (1931-1935), Administrator for St. Croix (1952 -1954), and Administrative Assistant to the Governor under the Revised Organic Act for the Virgin Islands (1954). He was also the first native to practice medicine on St. Croix (1915). In 1957, he was honored by the First Legislature with Resolution 50, which recognized his forty-five years of service to his community. On June 4, 1957, he received another honor when the Virgin Islands Legislature approved Resolution 65 to name the ball field at Parade Ground, St. Croix, in honor of Dr. David C. Canegata. He was married to the former Beryl Thomas of St. Croix and they were the parents of eight children: James Frederick, Eirene Canegata McDonald, Claire Canegata de la Motta, Herbert Lloyd, Angela Canegata, David Cornelius, Jr., Rita Canegata Weber, and Melba Canegata Biggs. Dr. Canegata died on July 29, 1972, on St. Thomas while visiting with his daughter Mrs. Eirene McDonald and her family. His remains were returned to Christiansted, St. Croix, for burial.

Tim Duncan

NBA Basketball Player and 2x World Champion
St. Croix.
April 25,1976

        Timothy Theodore Duncan was born on the island of St. Croix. His parents William and Ione also had two daughters, Cheryl and Tricia. Tim’s childhood dream was to become a swimmer like his older sister Tricia who swam in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, however after hurricane Hugo destroyed all of the pools on St. Croix in 1989 Tim shifted his focus to basketball. In 1992 Chris King, a recent NBA draftee and former Wake Forrest student saw Duncan playing at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School while visiting St. Croix to promote the NBA in the Caribbean. King convinced Wake Forest coach Dave Odom to recruit Duncan. While at Wake Forest, Tim was named the NCAA National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, he could have left Wake Forest after his junior year to become the number one pick in the NBA draft, but decided instead to complete his degree in psychology, fulfilling a promise he and his sisters made to their mom before she succumbed to Breast Cancer; to earn a college degree (all three have graduated).

        The San Antonio Spurs chose Tim as the first pick in the 1997 NBA draft. By season end Tim was voted as Rookie of the Year and was the only rookie selected for the 1998 All-Star game. A NBA championship would follow in his 2nd season (1999). A knee injury crushed Hopes of a repeat. Duncan has been a member of three USA Basketball teams. He works with various charities including Children’s Bereavement Center of San Antonio, working with children who lost a parent at an early age. He also provides 25 tickets to each home game in a section cleverly titled “Timbuktu.” to children who would be otherwise unable to attend a game. In St. Croix, Tim is devoted to bringing sports and business opportunities to the island. Duncan continues to play in the number 21 jersey as a power forward for the San Antonio Spurs while endorsing high-profile products such as Nike.

Charles Henry Emmanuel

Educator, Musician
St. Croix.
1891 - 1979

        A man of many talents who was equally competent in each, Charles Henry Emanuel was foremost a teacher. Born on St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, April 7, 1891, to Charles and Lucinda Blyden Emanuel, he devoted over forty-four years of service to the people of St. Croix as an educator. He was one of that committed group of leaders who did not hesitate to use personal funds to purchase educational supplies. For many years he supplemented the music and physical education programs by purchasing instruments and equipment with his own money. His sojourn on St. Croix began in 1922 when, as a young adult, he left St. Thomas and began his teaching career at the former Diamond-Ruby School and later at Princess Rural School. When he was awarded a principal's license he returned to Diamond Ruby as its administrator. His instruction was not limited, however, to academics. Being keenly interested in music, he identified students who showed musical potential and provided training in their special interest. The Diamond-Ruby School gained recognition for its choir which he established. Under his training, the group excelled in acappella style singing and was often featured at community affairs.

        As a teacher, he was also one of the first to introduce Black history to his classes. Not only did he develop an awareness of the contributions of local heroes like David H. Jackson, but he taught about outstanding West Indians, Africans, and other Blacks. Prior to his years as educator, Charles Emanuel was employed as an apprentice in the printing firm of Leroy Nolte on St. Thomas which published two outstanding newspapers, The Bulletin and The St. Thomas Tidende, the official Danish publication. He stayed with this firm for many years, assuming greater responsibilities, and was subsequently named sub-editor. As a writer, he combined his mastery of English with his creativity. An essayist, poet, and feature writer, he used his compositions to laud or to correct when necessary. For example, in 1970, when the local Daily News observed its fortieth anniversary as a daily newspaper, Mr. Emanuel's contribution was an interesting article entitled, "Freedom of the Press." With a powerful message subtly presented he expounded on the blessings of freedom of the press as one of the greatest privileges enjoyed by Virgin Islanders as a result of American citizenship. While urging both young and old to use this freedom for the fulfillment of goals, he also used a specific case involving a local publisher to illustrate how "this freedom can be discouraged through oblique devices employed by scheming officialdom." An advocate for social justice, he also used his writings to attack unfairness on any level and often reminded those in power to desist from using family name and personal affilia tion as a means for promotion rather than rewarding those who are deserving of such recognition. His poetry also reflected faith and respect in his fellowmen. Outstanding among these was: "A Word to Thee, David Hamilton Jackson," appearing in the West End News, April 14, 1915. The poem lauded Jackson for organizing the labor union which provided long overdue benefits for the labor ing class. Another literary composition was written in observance of Charles Lindbergh and his historic non-stop flight to the Virgin Islands in 1928. Other writings addressed local historic events and their significance to the territory.In 1921 he married Chrystalia Farrington, who was formerly a nurse. Mr. Emanuel died in December of 1979 in St. Croix, and his wife died shortly after in 1980. Their children are Helen Emanuel Sackey, James Camille, Charles Alexander, Asta, Dorothy Emanuel McBean, and Cleone Emanuel Jacobs. Ingeborg Emanuel Raymond and May Emanuel are children of previous unions.

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