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

Eugenie Forde      Rehenia A.Gabriel      Romalia A. Heyliger      Paul E. Joseph      Cyril E. King     

Eugenie Marie Tranberg Forde

Health Official, Midwife
St. Croix.
1900 - 1987

        An individual who literally touched the lives of thousands of Virgin Islanders as a midwife, Eugenie Marie Tranberg Forde not only delivered over four thousand babies, but provided health care for parents and children. Born on July 24, 1900, in Frederiksted, St. Croix, Danish West Indies, she later moved to St. Thomas with her parents, Laritz and Lucy Ann Bastian Tranberg. She received her early education at St. Patrick's Catholic School on St. Croix and St. Anne's Catholic School on St. Thomas and graduated at age sixteen. Due to existing laws against hiring minors, she was not eligible for employment, but accepted a temporary position at her alma mater as a pupil-teacher. After one year she applied for a nurse's position at the hospital. As a nurse trainee, she was exposed to a rigorous three year program. In 1923, she also completed the nurse-midwifery training program and was awarded a certificate. She pursued additional training at Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C., 1948; New York Hospital, 1949; Columbia Hospital, 1953; and Johns Hopkins Obstetrical Clinic in Baltimore.

        Her positions at the Municipal Hospital and later at Knud Knud-Hansen Memorial Hospital included supervisor of nurses and midwives, head nurse, nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife. Other related activities included chairperson, Nurse Midwifery Board, member of Board of Nurses Examiners, and treasurer of Virgin Islands Association of Nurses. For her dedication to these services, she was honored by several groups. In 1966, she was selected Woman of the Year by the St. Thomas Chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Organization. In 1967, she was the honoree of the Virgin Islands Nursing Association on the 50th anniversary of her nursing career. That same year the Christian Family Movement of the Roman Catholic Church also paid tribute to her. She was awarded the territory's highest honor, the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor, by Resolution 1259, August 1, 1986. She was the recipient of two previous Legislative resolutions, Nos. 416 and 831, both of which cited her outstanding and dedicated career. Legislative Act No. 4768 named the obstetrics-gynecology wing at the St. Thomas Hospital and Health Center the Eugenie Tranberg Forde Obstetrics Gynecology wing.Mrs. Forde died on November 25, 1987, in St. Thomas.

Rehenia A.Gabriel

St. Thomas.

        Dr. Rehenia Gabriel, an outstanding educator and daughter of Theodore and Ann Marie Caiby Gabriel, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She attended the Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln Elementary Schools in St. Thomas. After graduation in 1936 from Charlotte Amalie High School with a college preparatory diploma, she did undergraduate work at the University of Puerto Rico with emphasis on education. She transferred to and was graduated from Northern Illinois University in June, 1949, with a major in social studies and a minor in psychology. Continuing her formal education, she matriculated at New York University and in 1953 earned her master's degree in guidance and pupil personnel work. With an unending quest for higher learning, she later began postgraduate work at Teachers College, Columbia University, in supervision and curriculum improvement. In 1968, she received her doctorate in education from New York University with a major in guidance and personnel administration. Graduating with high honors, this achievement earned for Dr. Gabriel the honor of being the first woman in the Virgin Islands to obtain a doctorate in education.

        Prior to all of this, Dr. Gabriel began her teaching experience at the former Miss Dorothy Deisher's Private School, but later entered the public school system and was appointed teacher, acting art supervisor, and teacher and chairman of the Social Studies Department at Charlotte Amalie High School. In 1951 she served as assistant to The New York University Workshop for Teachers in the Virgin Islands and also as Instructor in the Hampton-On-Island Program. From 1958 to 1963, she was assistant principal of Charlotte Amalie High School and later in 1963, was made director of Pupil Personnel Services with the Department of Education. She also served as Educational Testing Services Supervisor for the Graduate Record Examination. As director of Pupil Personnel, Dr. Gabriel's major concern was to develop an operational model for pupil services which utilized a multidisciplinary team of professionals to meet the needs of elementary and secondary school children.Among her special awards was a Ford Foundation Fellowship, 1953 to 1954, which afforded her the opportunity to concentrate on and visit schools engaged in CORE programs. Dr. Gabriel, who retired in 1984 and resides with her sister Gladise, former primary school supervisor in St. Thomas, is an active member of the Memorial Moravian Church. Her brothers are Ramon and Theodore.

Romalia Albertha Heyliger

St. Thomas.
1874 - 1979

        During the 1970's Romalia Heyliger was one of the oldest living educators of the Virgin Islands. The daughter of John Valdemar and Margaret Wilson Jeppe, she was born in St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, on January 15, 1874. At an early age she moved with her family to St. Croix and completed her education on that island. After leaving school, she taught in the Christiansted Grammar School and later operated her own private school before returning to St. Thomas to live. Upon her return to St. Thomas, Mrs. Heyliger accepted employment in the public school system and taught at various schools includ ing the former Bethesda; Abraham Lincoln, now J. Antonio Jarvis; George Washington, now Evelyn Marcelli; and Leonard Dober. As a teacher she demanded excellence from her students, particularly in the correct use of the English language.

        On June 28, 1919, she married Apolinaire Heyliger of St. Thomas. The couple became famous for entertaining their friends at the annual celebrations of her birthday and their wedding anniversary by his singing of songs and her recital of poems and other literary selections. As a member of the original St. Thomas Teacher's Association, she participated in several plays presented by that organization as well as in other civic and religious community programs. On January 14, 1974, in observance of her one-hundredth birthday, the Tenth Legislature of the Virgin Islands passed Resolution 694, by which appreciation and grateful thanks to Mrs. Heyliger were expressed on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands for her twenty-eight years of faithful, devoted, and inspired service in public education. She died on May 6, 1979, at the age of one hundred and five.

Paul Emanuel Joseph

Legislator, Editor, Publisher
St. Croix.
1894 - 1966

        A fearless civil rights leader, Paul Emanuel Joseph is recognized as one of the territory's distinguished citizens. Born in Christiansted, St. Croix, on March 10, 1894, he matured into a giant of his times. An eloquent speaker, in 1924 he took over the West End News, a daily newspaper on St. Croix. He used this newspaper as the medium through which he successfully championed causes in the interest of his fellowmen. His major emphasis being Frederiksted, he fought vigorously for improvements for this town. Never afraid to defend his position on any issue, he even dared to criticize decisions of top level officials. One such instance, for which he was penalized, is the case, People of the Virgin Islands (plaintiff) vs. Harry Beatty, Criminal No. 18-1944, tried in the District Court, Division of St. Croix at Christiansted on June 7, 1944. Circumstances surrounding the case included the shooting of a black man, Andrew Thompson, by a white game warden, Harry Beatty. The defendant, charged with murder in the second degree, claimed self-defense. Emotions on the case ran high in the community and therefore the defendant waived his right to trial by jury. The judge agreed with this waiver and heard the case in court without a jury. In his decision, the judge, Herman Moore, handed down a decision of not guilty based on lack of sufficient evidence.

        In 1933, he was appointed to the Colonial Council and elected to the Municipal Counci of St. Croix, serving a period of seven years. During these seven years, he was the voice and ears of his people. His bills were designed specifically for the improvement of Frederiksted. In 1934 the federal government created the Virgin Islands Company as a rehabilitation program to assist St. Croix in its economic recovery from the depression. Strangely, many members of the St. Croix Legislature opposed the bill, which granted the compan its charter. Paul E. Joseph, on the contrary, envisioned the benefits of such an agency ar fought relentlessly for its passage. He used the West End News as his major weapon--his editorials carried his messages in bold and stirring language. The bill was passed by the Municipal Council of St. Thomas/ St. John. On April 1, 1964, the Fifth Legislature of the Virgin Islands approved Resolution 1130, which, among other things, named the ball field located in Frederiksted the Paul E. Joseph Ball Park. The resolution recognized his interest and struggles in behalf of the people of Frederiksted, his interest and assistance to the "underdogs" and for "fearlessly stating his opinions without regard to pressures from any quarter." He was married to the former Elaine Gabriel for thirty-three years and from this union there were five children. They are Helen Cecelia, a retired director of the Bureau of Health Education, V.I. Department of Health; Elaine Adelaide, retired nurse and elementary school teacher; Antoine, retired judge, Municipal Court and Territorial Courts; Thyra; and Alva, a printer.Mr. Joseph died on St. Croix on July 2, 1966, at the age of 72.

Cyril Emmanuel King

Governor, Senator
St. Croix.
1921 - 1978

        A protege of and former assistant to U. S. Senator Hubert Humphrey, Cyril Emmanuel King became the second elected governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1974. The son of Martin and Melvina King, he became known as "a man of the people." Born on St. Croix on April 7, 1921, he received his elementary education at St. Ann's Catholic School and graduated from St. Mary's School. In the 1940s with the outbreak of World War II, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. While at Camp Plauchen, New Orleans, Louisiana, he attended leadership training courses. Upon completion he was recommended for advanced officer training, but this offer had to be disregarded as he was shipped overseas and joined the Pacific Theater troops in Hawaii. After he was discharged he moved to St. Thomas and was employed as a book keeper at Lindqvist's 150 Garage and later at the Department of Public Welfare with Dr. Roy W. Bornn.

        In 1947, he entered American University, Washington, D.C. and graduated with a bach elor's degree in public administration. He later did graduate studies in government, public administration, and political science. In 1949, he went to work for U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey and began a professional relationship which lasted throughout his life time as both a profitable and rewarding experience. He initially was employed as an aide in the senator's office in Washington, D.C. and became the first Black to serve in this or any other senator's office. He subse quently became a staff member in the office and was in charge of research for the Special Committee on Disarmament, of which Senator Humphrey was chairman. Mr. King also represented the senator at the Disarmament Conference held jointly by the Post World War Council and the Committee for World Development and World Disarmament at Arden House in Harrison, New York. His twelve years' experience in Senator Humphrey's office provided much of the background for his future political activities. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him government secretary in the administra tion of Ralph M. Paiewonsky. However, in 1972, King was elected senator of the Virgin Islands Legislature and served one term. In 1974, he renewed his interest in the gubernatorial race, was successfully elected, and gained the honor of being the second elected governor of the territory. Governor King was tremendously popular and admired for his charisma and the tough, no-nonsense character of his administration. Unfortunately, his goals were short-lived since he became critically ill and died January 2, 1978, ten months before the completion of his first term of office.

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