Famous & Interesting Lucians
Castries Derek Walcott Square in honor of one of the island’s Nobel laureates
Sir Arthur Lewis
Sir William Arthur Lewis was the first of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates having won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979. Lewis is also noteworthy as the being the first black person to win in a category other than Peace. Born in Saint Lucia on January 23, 1915, as the son of two teachers, Lewis was an excellent student and completed school at an accelerated rate. After winning a government scholarship, Lewis set off to the London School of Economics where he received his BSc. in 1937 and Ph.D. in 1940 and remained as a lecturer until 1947.
Lewis’ career in academia included becoming a Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester from 1947 to 1958, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies from 1959 to 1962, and University Professor at Princeton University from 1963 to 1983. During this time he helped to establish the Caribbean Development Bank and became its director from 1970 to 1973. He was also an advisor on economic development to many commissions and countries all over the world.
Lewis was knighted in 1978 and received his Nobel Prize the following year for pioneering research into the economic development of developing countries. Lewis was the author of numerous books and papers on the subject. He died on June 15, 1991, and is buried on the grounds of Saint Lucia’s community college named in his honour. The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College is located on Morne Fortune which overlooks the City of Castries from the south. The college and numerous historical sites located on the grounds and nearby are popular sightseeing locales for visitors.
Saint Lucia’s second Nobel Laureate is Derek Walcott, a poet and playwright who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Born in the town of Castries in 1930, Walcott spent his early life in Saint Lucia before heading off to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
Walcott has written numerous plays and books of poetry. The inspiration for his writing comes from the Caribbean in both the natural beauty of the islands and the conflicts and resolutions of the regions fusion of Caribbean, African and European cultures from colonial times. After 36 years, Walcott retired from teaching poetry and drama in the Creative Writing Department at Boston University in 2007. He continues to give readings and lectures throughout the world and divides his time between homes in Saint Lucia and New York. Walcott is also a prolific painter, which is said to be his first love.
Sir Dunstan St. Omer
Sir Dunstan St. Omer has long been recognized as Saint Lucia’s premiere visual artist. Besides his paintings, he is known locally for the many murals and landscapes found in churches and communities throughout the island and the region. St. Omer also inspired generations of Saint Lucians as an art instructor for the Ministry of Education for over 30 years.
St. Omer also was given the honour of designing the Saint Lucia’s national flag when independence was gained in 1979.
To many, St. Omer is best know for his mural paintings of the Madonna and of Christ, both being done as black, found in many of the island’s Catholic Churches. This was done with the approval of the Vatican but at the time was viewed as a controversial cultural statement.
Dame Pearlette Louisy
Dame Pearlette Louisy is Saint Lucia’s Governor-General, the appointed ceremonial Head of State representing Queen Elizabeth II at major functions and events. She has held the position since 1997. Born in the town of Laborie in 1946, Dame Pearlette was a gifted student who won a scholarship to island’s only secondary school for girls at the time, St. Joseph’s Convent, which was located in Castries.
After completing her secondary education, Dame Pearlette went on to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, then to the University of Laval in Quebec City, and finally obtained her PhD in Higher Education from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
Returning to Saint Lucia, Dame Pearlette began a long and distinguished career as a teacher and then, with the opening of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, served there as Dean, Vice Principal and finally as Principal. To this day, Dame Pearlette remains one of Saint Lucia’s most eminent role models and citizens.
Sir John Compton
Sir John George Melvin Compton, was the first, fifth and eighth Prime Minister of Saint Lucia in 1979, from 1982 to 1996, and from 2006 until his death in September, 2007. Compton, who previously led Saint Lucia under British rule from 1964 to 1979, was the country’s first leader when the nation became independent in February 1979. With such a long and distinguished political career, Compton was a political icon not only in St. Lucia but in the Caribbean region as a whole.
Perhaps his most stunning achievement was coming out of retirement at 80 years of age and in 2006 winning back the Prime Minister position in a somewhat surprising victory for the United Workers Party. During the hard-fought election when criticized for his age Compton famously quipped he was not preparing to run in the Olympics but for leadership of the nation.
In earlier years Compton was the island’s key player in gaining independence from British rule and was always well known as a staunch supporter of working class farmers in St. Lucia and the region.
Nick Troubetzkoy is a Russian-Canadian architect who is the owner of Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet, two of Saint Lucia’s, and the Caribbean’s, most renowned resorts. Hailing from the west coast of British Columbia, Troubetzkoy came to St. Lucia in the early 70’s when he was offered an opportunity to to design vacation villas. Troubetzkoy immediately fell in love with Saint Lucia and its people. When an opportunity arose to purchase Anse Chastanet, together with partners, Troubetzkoy did so and became the Managing Director.
Over the ensuing decades, he built Anse Chastanet into a 49 room resort that is always at the top of every travel magazines list of top wedding and romance destinations. The resort is famous for its natural laid back feel as most rooms are open air featuring spectacular views of the Caribbean and Saint Lucia’s famous Pitons. The accommodations are also well known for having no phones or televisions which Troubetzkoy felt only get in the way of romance and the joy of having an intimate relationship with the surrounding nature.
As his ultimate architectural expression of building in complete harmony with nature, Troubetzkoy designed and constructed Jade Mountain as a second and more exclusive hotel on the resort property. Jade Mountain quickly became world famous for its large ‘sanctuaries’ each of which features a missing fourth wall that is replaced by a spacious infinity pool that melds perfectly with the Caribbean and the majestic Pitons rising from the sea. Since its opening, Jade Mountain has consistently made nearly everyone’s list of the top resorts in the world solidifying Troubetzkoy’s stature both as an architect and as an innovator in hotel design.