Dr Keva Bethel: A truly great citizen
Renowned educator the late Dr. Keva Bethel once said”…let us aim for the stars, even if we only hit a tree.”
It was a phrase that epitomized her commitment to nation-building and portrayed her vision for The Bahamas.
Dr. Bethel imagined a country in which there was a national plan for development, one where formal education took on a transformative role and the church, the government and civil society worked together for the common good.
In her now famous speech”A Vision for The Bahamas”, Dr. Bethel said:”I hope that as we tout our constitutional commitment to Christian values, we shall in fact learn to translate these into more Christ-like behavior, characterized by compassion, love and genuine concern for those who share with us this very special part of God’s creation.”
Dr. Bethel was a nation builder who carried out her duties with great distinction, honor and integrity.
She was deeply committed not only to the importance and development of education but also to the development and promotion of Bahamian culture and heritage.
Dr. Bethel died on Tuesday, February 15 at Doctors Hospital, on the day of the funeral of her beloved brother Bishop Michael Eldon, who had passed away only eight days earlier after suffering a long illness.
Dr. Bethel had a distinguished career as an educator. Before being named the first president of the College of The Bahamas, she served as principal there for 13 years, and prior to that served as chairman in the Humanities Division, dean of Academics and vice principal. Before joining the college, Dr. Bethel served as assistant mistress and teacher at the Government High School.
She served on many local, regional and international bodies concerned with the advancement of education at all levels. And as an active community-minded individual, Dr. Bethel was closely associated with many civic organizations, including Cable Cares Bahamas, the Lyford Cay Foundation, and Safe Bahamas.
Dr. Bethel was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the CMG, Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
She came from a family who contributed to the development of the country and marked many firsts in The Bahamas. Her brother, the first Bahamian Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, was praised for his life-long commitment to spiritual and educational development; and their mother Rowena Eldon was the first Bahamian president of the Bahamas Red Cross Society and a founding member of the Ranfurly Home for Children.
Dr. Bethel was also the widow of the late cultural icon E. Clement Bethel, who has been widely celebrated for his enormous contributions to the arts and to cultural expression in The Bahamas. He was the first Director of Culture, a post that the couple’s daughter Nicolette served many years later. Both of the couple’s two children’s are educators.
Among the tributes that poured in after her death, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham hailed Dr. Bethel as”one of our truly great citizens: devoted, honest, loyal and steadfast.
“Her life’s accomplishments and her warm spirit are forever etched in the annals of our history and in the hearts of countless Bahamians.”