This article was written by Dean Doeling of Using Sport for Social Change and can be found in its entirity at http://www.usingsportforsocialchange.com/a_visit_with_history_guy_h_benjamiin and is an apt tribute as we say God Speed to a St. John Treasure.
Late one night, as Guy Benjamin lay sleeping in his darkened bedroom. He felt a presence standing over him…watching. With his eyes still shut; his heart pounding and mind racing, Guy felt the cool Caribbean breeze come in from the window and wash over his body. Usually a welcomed gift in this hot and humid climate, the breeze this time, chilled him. Adding to his heightened awareness of the large presence looming in his room.
The presence felt stronger now. Larger. Guy could sense it standing right next to his bed; still, silent…and breathing heavy. Guy did the only thing he could do. He squinted one eye open and peered through the darkness. The huge formidable form was just barely visible. A large black shadow against the even darker shade of night. As his sight adjusted, Guy was able to make out a shape. Yep. It was a donkey.
“What?” I said. Sitting on the edge of my chair. Guy was laughing now.
“Sure!” Guy said. “He let himself in. He wanted to check up on me!”
I sat there in disbelief. Thinking that this 95 year old Islander had just pulled one over on me.
“It’s true.” Guy said with a large smile and a gleam in his eyes.
“Well… what did you do?” I said loudly. “I told him to leave” he said. “Did he?” I questioned.
“Oh sure.” “He backed himself out of my room and left the way he came in through the front door.”
Well.. then what did you do?” “I went back to sleep.” “It’s always comforting to know that your friends are checking up on you.” Guy said.
Raised by his Grandmother after his Mother passed away, Guy learned to read when he was 3 years old. He was too young to go to school, but when his siblings would come home from school and do their homework, he learned quickly just by listening to them talk. When he was finally old enough to attend the small one room schoolhouse, he excelled in his studies. A few years later, lodgings were found for him on the nearby island of St. Thomas where he could attend grades 7 through 12. At age 16, Guy was the first St. Johnian to graduate from high school, with valedictorian honors. He was then sent back to St. John to teach at two local schools now on the Western shore of Coral Bay, not too far from his house now. Later, he became Superintendent of schools in St. Thomas and St. John. One school in St. John was renamed “Guy H. Benjamin School” in his honor.
...I decided to tell Guy about my initiative to help the youth of St. John. I told him of my grass roots project to keep kids active and occupied through sports and fitness programs on the island. I let him know that I was working with other teachers, parents and community foundation members on island that were helping me to organize sporting and fitness events for youth of all ages. “This”, I said “Would help focus Virgin Island youth, giving them the confidence they need to set personal goals, achieve their aspirations and create opportunity for themselves, their family and their community.” I asked him one question: “Do you have any advice for me, for helping more youth of St. John?” Guy stated simply: “Just keep doing what you are doing.” I smiled and nodded, knowing exactly what he meant: Not to give up on his kids.
4th Annual JUST PLAY on Monday October 8th!
Join us Sunday, Oct. 7th for an unforgettable and intimate evening of food, fun and sunset sailing in support of this annual free community event; and exciting day of sports for youth ages 5-17! Call today for limited availability tickets for the sail or to register as a participant or volunteer at the event! 340-693-9410