November 13, 2019

Cayman Islands teacher laid to rest

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Monica Elaine Bryan was laid to rest last Saturday (25) at Prospect Cemetery on Grand Cayman.

This was after a Mass of Resurrection for her amazing at St George’s Anglican Church, Courts Road, George Town.

The church was overflowing to a tent in the church car park.

Monica was a founding member of the church and one of the Officiating Priests was The Rt. Rev. Leon Golding, Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay. The other priest was the Rector of St. George’s, Rev. Mary Graham.

The following was read by Mr. Lemuel Hurlston:

The Life of Monica Elaine Bryan: Her Story

Monica Elaine Bryan, nee Lobban, was born to Inez Clarke and Victor Lobban on February 28th 1932 in St Mary, Jamaica.

Monica attended nursery school, Jack’s River Elementary School and Oracabessa High School. Monica recalled that in those days, nursery schools were called private schools as the schools would charge students up to three pence per week. Identified as a bright student, Monica skipped the first class in elementary school. From an early age Monica demonstrated her love for learning. She happily attended extra lessons and was motivated by the extra and more challenging work given to her by her teachers. Monica received distinctions with 100% passes at the primary and high school levels in what was then known as Jamaica Local Exams in the Jamaican education system.

Monica’s favourite subjects were Math & English. Later on she developed a love for Science and Art. Her children often marveled at how quickly their could mentally perform complex calculations, a talent that remained with her to the end. Her love for English and Art are evidenced by the many poems that she wrote and the drawings and paintings with a variety of subjects and mediums she did over the years. One of her children’s and grandchildren’s most precious gift from her is a book that they each received with a collation of her poems, favourite bible verses, and art work. Monica also had an ear for music and was able to read musical notes and sound things out on the piano.

Monica was the second of four children for her mother and father and the only daughter to this union. She was the apple of her father’s eye and would look forward to the weekly bouquet of flowers her father would bring her, with flowers he had cut from his sister’s garden. Monica’s father later had three children from another union, which produced a baby sister for Monica. Both sets of children grew up together, often spending time at each other’s home or with their paternal grandparents. Although the siblings all got along well, Monica and her sister Norma quickly developed a close and lasting bond between them.

As children, Monica and her siblings were nurtured by their parents and their families and by the village that truly raised the child. She often recounted how her mother ensured that homework was done, gave them chores, and taught them to cook and about entrepreneurship. But most of all she taught them about God, to be kind and to care for others. On a Sunday, once dinner was cooked, her mother would portion out the food and Monica and her siblings would take dinner around for all the neighbors.

Undoubtedly this gesture was the seed of Monica’s infamous Sunday Dinners for family and friends which has continued through the years.

The Lobban family is an extensive family, originating from Scotland with two brothers, one of whom was Monica’s Great Grandfather, migrating to Jamaica and settling on the north coast The growth of the family over the years produced 12 children for Monica’s grandparents. Monica was extremely close to her grandparents and would often spend school holidays with them on one of the many properties they owned. She absolutely adored her grandmother who would teach her to sew, knit, crochet, and bake, whilst imparting historical family information and traditions to her. Monica also enjoyed a very special bond with her cousins and together they engaged in many adventures throughout their youth and into adulthood. As a young child, Monica was taught to have reverence for God, a characteristic that helped her to cope with the unexpected death of her father when she was only 15 years of age.

By the end of High School Monica’s burning desire to become a teacher was obvious and she embarked on her dream by becoming a Pupil Teacher. Monica attended both Mico Training College and Moneague Teachers College in Jamaica. After achieving her teacher’s certification she returned to her home town of St Mary where she taught for a while. She later moved to Kingston where she taught at the Shortwood Teacher’s Practicing school.

In 1961, Monica was seconded to the Cayman Prep School by the Jamaican Ministry of Education. At that time the school was behind the George Town library and she lived in the teacher’s accommodation which was on the property where the former Comart store was located across from the Court House parking lot. The school eventually moved to the site of the Fidelity Bank George Town branch and then into their new home on Walkers Road. An ever enthusiastic teacher, Monica taught groups 2 – 4, conducted student rehearsals for plays and reCitals, even teaching them to waltz, coached them in sports day activities and acted as Principal on many occasions. She also taught at Cayman High school for a short period. As a result of her performance as a teacher and the respect that the students and parents had for her, Cayman Prep sought to keep her on as 100g as possible.

In 1975, Monica decided to spread her wings a bit more and began teaching at John Cumber A. Cumber primary school in West Bay. The West Bay community embraced her and she continued to do what she knew to do best, investing her time and effort to ensuring that every child she taught had the foundation to help them achieve their full potential. Monica retired in 1989, teaching at for her last term. Although retired, she did not truly leave teaching as she filled in at Savannah Primary, and St. Ignatius Catholic School, tutored adults and children and taught courses at ICCI. She also assisted at St George’s Preschool and would regularly visit schools to read to children. Monica was always happy to see her past students and keenly watched their progress and rejoiced in their successes.

Always ready to try something new, Monica was employed at Aviation Communications from 1990-1996 where her technological skills were brought to life; she retooled and assisted customers using her newly acquired knowledge of technology.

In addition to being a dedicated teacher, Monica was also a devoted and loving wife to Derrick Lloyd Bryan. Lloyd as he was affectionately knowncame to Cayman in 1959 to work as the Dental Technician. They married in 1963 and became the proud parents of three daughters, Lois, Joy and Mellony.

Life had its challenges for Monica. The most profound being the untimely death of her husband in 1980 leaving her to care and raise their three daughters on her own. During this time she continued to work and be involved in community, school and church activities. Monica remained dedicated to her daughters ensuring they were well cared for and that they completed tertiary education. Monica, a believer in life- long learning pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Certificate in Hospitality. In 1996 Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer. She faced this challenge bravely and went through Chemo and Radiation treatments, often times leaving Cayman on the morning flight to Miami, going straight to the hospital for chemotherapy treatments and returning to Cayman the same day. Thanks be to God, Monica overcame her obstacles. Monica was a doting grandmother, who nurtured hergrandchildren and supported them in their ventures whilst mentoring and guiding them to become the best that they could be. She could regularly be seen cheering them along in their extracurricular activities and was their go-to person for just about anything under the sun.

Monica enjoyed life and loved travelling. A lover of tea, she collected tea pots from all over the world. She was also avid at . solving crossword puzzles. Monica enjoyed having friends around and loved dancing. She took pleasure in gardening and often times made her own floral arrangements. She was an expert internet surfer and could rival any young person with her use of WhatsApp and Facetime.

Monica though humble has impacted many lives and in her own small way given back to the community that embraced her so many years ago and became her home. She leaves behind a rich legacy for her children, Lois, Joy and Mellony; sons-in-law, Errol, Adeniyi and Courtney; grandchildren, Donovon, Michael, Adebayo, and Ayodeji; Sister, Norma; in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, adopted grandchildren, extended family and friends too numerous to name.

IMAGES: From Mass of the Resurrection Order of Service

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