Dear Editor,

The matter of saying thanks to people who stand out and make contributions to our society is always appropriate and important. However, many of us wait to give flowers and say positive things when such people are dead. At that point, our kind words and flowers are important aspects of the ceremony, but their meaning is lost to the person who has passed.

The calypsonian Bahowlah of Nevis highlighted that fact in a recent composition, noting that after death, the flowers, adulations and “De money stay.” Mr. Handsome of Jamaica expresses that idea differently. His version says the same thing, but in a terse and different caption. In presenting his position on that matter, Mr. Handsome declared, “Fix Me Up Now.”

People in the U.S. Virgin Islands should remember and show appreciation to Mr. Lee Carle, going forward, with such thinking in mind. Mr. Carle has been a part of this society since 1954. His former coworkers at WSTA can take the lead. Many other Virgin Islanders will join them in fixing-up Lee Carle now.

Hollywood, the winner of the recent online senior calypso show in Nevis emphasized that we ought to reflect on our journeys through life, and be prepared to show appreciation to people who touched and impacted our lives positively. To such people, Hollywood declared, “Gratitude is a must!”

While Mr. Lee Carle is alive, alert and can appreciate our gratitude, it is a good thing for us to pause, remember those times when he was a voice of comfort, bringing light to replace darkness, during the experiences of storms in our lives. Because of his many positive contributions to our society, we can find the time, make the effort, and really fix Mr. Carle up now.

He is 91 years old, somewhat frail in his body, but very much alert and alive. Lee will enjoy and appreciate being fixed up now. He will love the flowers, words of thanks, appreciation and encouragement that anyone cares to share with him now, while he lives a quiet, retired existence at the Palms Court Harbor View Hotel.

When Lee Carle came to the U.S. Virgin Islands back in 1954, from day one he became engaged in speaking to, entertaining and informing the islands’ society. No one can say with honesty that Mr. Carle has not been involved in, touched lives here and given of himself in a big way to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through the years, Mr. Carle reached out into our communities on both radio and television, touching lives whenever he could. Lee used all the skills he possesses, at times adding intuition and creativity. There were some crises and daring, too.

Lee Carle informed us about the Anguillan rebellion in 1967. During 1970, it was the Christena tragedy.* Later, in 1976, Lee Carle shared information about the American Airlines crash while landing at the Harry S. Truman (now Cyril E. King) Airport, on St. Thomas. There was also the burning of the Angelina Lauro at the WICO dock in 1979, and Lee Carle covered that unusual incident.

However, in the process of documenting that event, Lee must have angered the police. They interrupted his broadcast and threatened to arrest him. Gov. Juan Luis, a friend of Lee’s, was listening to the special broadcast. Once the governor became aware about what was happening, he called the police and stopped their plan to arrest Mr. Carle while broadcasting to the world about a cruise ship on fire in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other special memories about Lee Carle include occasions when he talked and consoled Virgin Islands through storms, first from WSTA in Frenchtown, then later WSTA in Sub Base. Many of us can still remember being buoyed up and informed by Mr. Carle and his team during terrifying hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and Marilyn in 1995. To show her appreciation, one lady wrote in a letter to Mr. Carle: “I want to let you know personally … the comfort and peace of mind you brought to one lonely woman, in the middle of a howling hurricane.”

As a forward-thinking leader, Lee shared his media skills with Virgin Islanders, including Addie Ottley, Irvin “Brownie” Brown, and Jimmy O’Bryan. He worked at different radio stations on the U.S. mainland and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, Lee’s longest tenure with a station has been at WSTA — the people’s station. There he was known for the news presentation “Lee Carle’s News Day.”

Admittedly, Mr. Carle has been recognized and given some special awards for his work as a journalist. They include one from Queen Elizabeth II of England. In retrospect, Lee Carle, formerly Leo Carlo, “a New Yorker by birth, became a Virgin Islander by choice.” His wife Jewel Jeppesen was from here, too.

Today, Lee can benefit from the love and gratitude of Virgin Islanders — a people with whom he built a symbiotic relationship through his journalistic effort.

Memories of his voice and contributions here pushed me to locate Lee Carle. Now, I keep demonstrating to him that “Gratitude is a must!”

— Whitman T. Browne, Ph. D., St. Thomas

  • * The Christena disaster was a
  • ferry boat shipwreckwith 233 casualties that occurred on Aug. 1, 1970 between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Leeward Islands, West Indies.