ST. THOMAS — Former Charlotte Amalie High School Principal Ruth Thomas is being remembered as a fierce advocate for the territory’s students following her death Monday at age 94.
“Mrs. Thomas was a celebrated educator who dedicated her life’s work to the education of Virgin Islands students and the improvement of her community,” Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said in a statement. “She, without question, left an indelible mark on the lives of generations of young people in our community, and in her time with us engendered the values of a generation of Virgin Islanders who exemplified stewardship and service to their faith, family, and community.”
V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett remembered Thomas as a “consummate public figure, educator, and academic leader in the Virgin Islands for many years.”
“As an educational leader, she took personal interest in all of her students; being knowledgeable of their families and involved in all their educational pursuits,” Plaskett said. “Miss Thomas was equally involved in charitable endeavors, and she possessed the ability to identify strategies that were of great value to the overall success of the organizations she was associated with.”
Plaskett added that anyone “who has had the good fortune of knowing and working with Miss Thomas would agree that she was admired and respected by all Virgin Islanders.”
“Our community has indeed lost an important trusted educational activist. Like all great educators her legacy lives on in the many students she touched. She was a Stalwart of Educational Excellence! Her decades-long service and commitment to our community is unrivaled and will most definitely be missed,” Plaskett said.
Former Gov. Charles Turnbull, who also served as a CAHS principal, said the Virgin Islands lost “a great veteran educator, civic servant and role model.
“In a distinguished career that spanned more than 30 years as a classroom teacher and high school assistant principal and principal at her beloved Charlotte Amalie High School, she positively influenced generations of young men and women to live productive lives. Among many other worthwhile advocacies in her life, she firmly believed that strong, extended family bonds are essential in the creation of a successful and caring community,” Turnbull said. “Hers was a life long, fruitful and well-lived.”
Thomas’s death comes nearly a month after another CAHS leader who served alongside her during her principalship at CAHS died. Elizabeth “Betty” de LaGarde died on Oct. 28 in her native Philadelphia at age 102.
After relocating to St. Thomas, De LaGarde worked as an educator for 31 years, starting off as social studies teacher and ending her career as an assistant principal at CAHS. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the St. Thomas Business and Professional Women’s Club, The Friends of Denmark and the League of Women Voters.
She was Rotary Woman of the Year in 1972.
For nearly two decades, Thomas’ voice could be heard weekly on WSTA radio on a segment titled “Sound Off,” where she aired her views on local topics. Her last segment was broadcast earlier this month.
The auditorium at CAHS is named in her honor.