Obituaries

Obituaries

Elsie Louise Chandler

Elsie Louise Chandler

6/26/2012 11:12:50 AM
Elsie Louise Chandler (nee Dames) was born on 8th June 1930 at Nassau, Bahamas. She was the first of two children born to George Newbury Dames and Elma Francina Kemp. Subsequently, she and her brother went to live with her father’s relatives. Elsie was not officially and legally adopted, but for all practical purposes and to the knowledge of everyone who knew them in those days, she became the daughter and first child of Richard Vernon Thompson, formerly of Savannah Sound, Eleuthera, and his wife, Leila (nee Sawyer). (Leila was George’s 1st cousin.) Richard and Leila later gave birth to Vallance, Wavell and Zelia.

Richard Thompson was employed as a lighthouse keeper in the Imperial Lighthouse Service. Thus, Elsie spent much of her childhood years in remote locations, such as the lighthouses at Great Isaac Cay in the Biminis, Great Inagua and Hole-In-The-Wall, Abaco. It was the custom back then for the lighthouse keepers to take turns looking after each others children. This included teaching basic academics and imparting their own knowledge to the children. Elsie received her early education in this manner. Richard later took up employment with Bahamas Customs and returned to Nassau to eventually settle and establish a permanent home at Fort Fincastle.

Elsie was in her early twenties and employed at the Royal Victoria Hotel when she met and was courted by Dorton Elliott Chandler, a young police constable, recently recruited from Barbados.
They married in August 1954 and gave birth to four sons, Victor, Jeff, Kelly and Bing (Vernon). They built their first home in Burial Ground Corner, where they became known to everyone in the neighbourhood, no doubt due to Dorton’s occupation as a policeman.

Elsie “adopted” additional children over the years and friends will remember that at various times she had living with her Bob, from Sandy Point, Daisy, from Mangrove Cay, and Wally, from Haiti. An especially close bond developed between her and Dee (Dianne) who came to her when she was only a few months old and became, in every sense of the word, her first daughter. A little later, Valley (Valentine), Dee’s older brother, came along and a similar attachment developed. Eventually, Dee’s other siblings, Dubby (Ricardo), Frankie (Francisco), and Sophie moved in and all came to regard Elsie as their mother. There is no doubt that Elsie loved all of her children and took her parenting responsibility seriously. It was her children who gave her the nickname ‘Marge’ (for ‘madre’, meaning mother) by which she has become known to everyone.

Elsie will be remembered by most people as a woman who was at home in the kitchen. While in Burial Ground Corner, she started selling cups and candies and tarts and the like from her kitchen. Children from throughout the neighbourhood called out, ‘Miss Elsie, I come to the shop!’ at her back door daily. When the family relocated to their second home in Penny Bank Lane in the early 70’s, she continued her tuck shop and expanded into selling lunches to the teachers and children from nearby Claridge Primary School. Her customers sometimes ranged from further away, however, and she occasionally received lunch orders from business establishments.

Elsie’s health deteriorated in later years to the point where she was advised by doctors to get out of the kitchen. But, her drive to keep busy at what she loved doing was such that many warnings later she was still at it. She eventually retired from cooking but kept the tuck shop going for neighbourhood children looking for the odd candy, cup, bag of chips, ice cream cone and soda.

For all of her life, Elsie was a dedicated Christian, focused on God and the work of His church. She regularly donated baked goods for church fund raising events, and attended services religiously up to the time her ailments made getting around on her own too much of a challenge for her. She was also zealous about her family and remained faithful, especially to her husband. She empathized with him through his illness until his death on 12 June 2011, and bemoaned his passing from that day to the end of her own life on 23rd June 2012.

Elsie Louise Chandler epitomised good Christian living. She will be sorely missed by all who came to know her up close and personal.
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