It was on March 28, 1964 on a Holy Saturday that god sent one of his angels to earth to bring joy to His people. She was born into a strong Roman Catholic family. This angel was given the name of a Saint, Michelle Therese, in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. Her mother knew she was not only a beautiful baby but that she was very special. Her family called her Therese and later came to understand that not only was her name special but also her namesake, St. Therese of Lisieux. They shared a common interest in pleasing others and making them laugh.
She was the apple of her maternal grandmother’s eye. As the first granddaughter in the family, Therese brought joy to everyone. Her grandparents, aunts and uncles loved her dearly especially her big brother Gregory.
Therese knew love and she gave love. She grew into a very pleasant child and was someone who did not take any foolishness from others, particularly in Primary School. She stood up to all of the bullies to protect her sisters Lynn and Patrell. She would punch those bad bullies if necessary.
Her brother Gregory was her protector. When Therese was much older and was reminded of her school days at family gatherings she would laugh heartily about it. Many family members and friends can confirm that she spoke her mind, but no love was lost. She took pride in saying that she got that from her grandmother.
Therese called all of her mom’s adult cousins and friends at BaTelCo aunts and uncles, and this trend continued throughout her adult life, she loved them dearly and they loved her.
Therese loved her family, she was a dedicated friend and took a delight in pleasing everyone and spending time with them, especially Jackie, Terry and Linda, she never liked being alone. She loved being with her family and friends and was good at turning a family gathering into a party on any occasion. Her best friend was her Mother, whom she affectionately called Lori, and on occasion Lorraine, when she wanted to get her attention, because she was a take charge person often tried to switch roles and had to be reminded that she was the daughter and not the mother.
God must have given her invisible wings because she touched so many people all over the world. Therese was very energetic and most people had trouble keeping up with her. In hindsight, it seems as though she was on a mission and she knew it. She never wasted a moment in making others happy. At age two (2), Therese would run across the street to the neighbors whenever she got the opportunity, to dance because she knew that the older Mrs. Baker enjoyed her dancing as she clapped her hands and sang for Therese.
While in High School at L.W. Young, Therese met a teacher Mrs. Dorothy Whitlock who was the Dance and Music Teacher. This union was the beginning of Therese’s dancing and musical career. Therese embraced music, dancing and later modeling. Fortunately, her schoolwork was not allowed to suffer, and the world of music and dance was all the better because of Therese.
Therese spent most of her time from thereon perfecting her God given talents, singing and dancing which she gladly used to make others happy. At age eleven (11) she asked her parents for permission to join a Ballet Class on Paradise Island and she attended the classes on Saturdays accompanied by her aunt Deborah, now deceased.
Therese so loved dancing and singing that she held her own classes on the patio of her home as a teenager, when she was barely twelve (12) years old. Her classes consisted of children in the neighborhood. It did not matter if her parents told her that she was going to get a beating if the dishes were not done after-school. Sometimes she got that beating but she kept right on teaching the neighborhood kids to sing and dance.
At age fourteen (14), Therese won the Little Miss Pinedale Beauty Pageant, sponsored by the Progressive Liberal Party, (PLP) and at the PLP Convention that year; Therese told her mother that she was not ready to leave until she had a chance to meet the former Prime Minister Sir Lynden O. Pindling. A few years later Therese met Obafemi (Obi) Pindling through some mutual friends, since they shared a love for music they became life long friends. She told her mother that one evening while practicing with the band for a special occasion at Obi’s home the former Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling heard her singing and called her a “Little Song Bird”. Therese was so pleased that the Prime Minister thought well of her singing, Therese knew what she wanted and she was not afraid to make the efforts to achieve her dreams. She became a Bahamian super Star and she enjoyed every moment of it an encouraged others to achieve their goals.
Therese won several more beauty pageants and awards including -:
Miss Travel Club Bahamas
First Runner Up in Hal Jackson’s Talented Teen
First Bahamian Grammy Female Award
When Therese graduated from High School she went to work for several Travel Agencies. She travelled a lot and because she was a quick learner, she learned to drive and travelled anywhere in the U.S.A. She would take friends and family members on long trips in the U.S.A and visited family on many occasions.
At age twenty-three (23), Therese decided she wanted to take voice lessons and she went to New York and lived with her mom’s cousin whom she called aunt Carolia (Carolia Kelly-John nee White), and stayed in New York for six months. Therese being very fashion conscious, upon returning to Nassau, continued her modeling for the Ministry of Tourism, local functions and industries, promoting their products. She did various advertisements, especially after her first recorded song “O Do You Know” became a hit. She won the First Bahamian Grammy Award for female artist. Therese later became involved with her uncle Kevin Strachan’s Fifth Avenue Modeling Agency where she was his top model and Model Instructor.
When the Sandals Hotel opened, Therese was employed in the Entertainment Department as a female artist, and around the same time, started working with Breezes Hotel, where she remained in these positions over the last fifteen years working nights.
In 2002, Therese joined the staff of Bahamas Mortgage Corporation as the Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Managing Director and remained until her demise.
When her son Elrich was born, Therese took on the role of mother, her son was her pride and joy. She provided for him in all of his needs including a home of their own. When her job dictated that she travelled, she made sure he was with his maternal grandmother and his aunt Lynn. Therese raised him to have manners and respect for his elders and others. Therese made certain he had a good education and it was while he attended St. Thomas Moore, she met many of Elrich’s teachers. Mrs. Cynthia Moss was Elrich’s headmistress and she stayed in close contact with Therese to ensure that he was doing well in school. During the same time Therese met Sis. Cecile Albury and they formed a bond. Sis. Cecile enlightened her mother on the common interest Therese shared with St. Therese the Flower Child. Two days before her passing, Sis. Cecile spent some time with her praying and singing with her. Elrich attended St. Augustine’s College and graduated from Nassau Christian Academy in Nassau and became an outstanding student in athlete with his mother’s determination, love and help.
Therese was excited and overjoyed when Elrich was accepted into Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, U.S.A. Therese was most proud when her son told her that he wanted to study Theology, although she wanted him to study Accountants and get his CPA, because that is what she loved, but she encouraged him because she loved God more. Elrich’s GPA is 4.00 and he has received several Academic Awards for most outstanding athlete student. Therese provided a safe and happy home for Elrich, always knowing that if at any time she had to leave him he would be with his grandmother until he could live on his own. Elrich is 21 years old and will be graduating from Lindenwood University in May 2013.
Therese was very fond of children and spent many times visiting schools and making presentations to students and speaking about Bahamian Culture for the Ministry of Tourism.
Kaden, one of her favorite nephews “her three (3) year old baby”, whom she loved dearly, unfortunately is too young to understand why he is not seeing her. Therese had gotten permission from his mom to take him on vacation with her this year in August.
Therese attended other Catholic Parishes such as Resurrection and Holy Family where she was a Girls Guide but St. Francis Xavier was always her special parish. As long as she was on the Island, Therese would pick her mother up for early Mass on Sundays at Holy Family Parish and on special occasions such as Birthdays. Therese would say “I am going to church with you but I know Father Cooper is going to ask me if it is my birthday”. That was his way of telling her to come more often.
Therese was an adult student of Monsignor Alfred Culmer while studying at Omega College at St. Augustine’s. Fr. Glen Nixon who was very special to her as well as Fr. Thomas Brislin and they all visited her in hospital.
On July 5th, 2012, Therese suffered a massive stroke and remained in hospital until her passing on August 31st, 2012.
Therese received the best care by her team of Doctors at Doctors Hospital. Therese passed away very peacefully with her mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, Doctors & Father Glen Nixon who were all at her bedside.
Left to cherish her memories are her son: Elrich Walker Jr.; her mother: Lorraine Hepburn; her brothers: Retired Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Gregory Allen Fernander and Elrod Hepburn Sr.; her three sisters: Lynette Hepburn, Patrell Hepburn-Sullivan and Joy-Ann Hanna; Grand Aunts: Mrs. Gertrude Delores Johnson and Mrs. Leila Moss; Aunts: Mrs. Gertrude Rolle-Wilson, Maria Strachan, Elizabeth Hepburn, Barbara Harvey and Deborah Gibson; Uncles: Solomon Strachan, Kevin Strachan, Anthony Strachan, Kirk Gibson, Juan Gibson and Dave Gibson, Alcott Wilson Sr., Jay Koment and P. Anthony White; Nieces: Kayneshia and Gia Hepburn, Sana’a Gardiner and Thynera Hanna; Nephews: Kenton and Kristen Hepburn-Taylor, Elrod Hepburn Jr., and Kaden Capron; Brother-in-law: Michael Sullivan; Sister-in-law: Ginger Hepburn; Cousins: Anthony Rolle (Tony Seymour Jr.) & Family, Anwar Rolle & Family, Sophia Rolle, Lamont Strachan, Tristen Strachan (Godchild), Kristen Strachan, Anthonique Strachan, Anthony Strachan Jr., Lisa Turnquest & Family, Michael Strachan, Marcie McPhee & Family, Carolia John & Family, Jane Petrona Johnson & Family, Anthony & Helen Giles & Family, Wendy & Winston, Daphne, Donna, Robert & Anita & Family, Benjamin, Sheena John of Virginia, Carlene Parnther & Family of Georgia, Lionel and Alcott Wilson Jr., Linda, Eddie and Teddy Thompson, Mary Armbrister & Family, Diane Major & Family, Adair Johnson & Family, Leo, Sidney, Terry, Dot Rodgers & Family, Helen Johnson, Joanne & Rodney Johnson & Family, Mrs. Agatha Rodgers & Family, Miriam Johnson & Family of New Jersey, Sharon, Tony, Alfred Jr., Dwight, Agatha, Paul Smith & their Families, the Gilbert Family, the Bethel Family, the Kemp Family, Kenneth Herious & Family, Crystal Strachan & Family, Oreal Strachan & Family, Douglas Wilson of New York, the Johnson Family, Audley Kemp Jr. & Family, Edward Johnson & Family, Frederick Clarke & Family, Geneva Johnson, Caroline & Tuesday White, Mathedis (Teddy) Garraway. Special Friends & Family: Former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest & Family, the Right Honorable Prime Minister Perry Christie & Mrs. Christie, Dr. Duane Sands, the Honorable D. Shane Gibson & Family, Minister of Housing, Dr. Cyprian Strachan & Family, Obafemi Pindling, Jackie Adderley, Oliver Gibson & Family, Dr. Julian Stuart, Mrs. Ruth Adderley-Rolle, Terry, Cleo & Deseri Adderley, Willard, Valentino & Petra Hanna & Family, Mary Clarke (Special Aunts: Mrs. Sylvia Godet & Family, Mrs. Marie Rahming & Family, Mrs. Iris Smith & Family, Mrs. Claudette Young & Family, Mrs. Altamese Isaacs & Family, Mrs. Doris Farrah & Family, Ethel Sands & Family), Mrs. Sandra Storr & Family, Mr. Terrance Hanna & Family, Crystal Swann, Felicia (Nell) Ferguson, Bruce Clarke & Family, & Management & Staff of Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, Derek Smith (Jet Blue), Ruth Smith, Brenda Riley & Family, Charles Carter, Fr. David Cooper, Averil Sullivan, Maurice Sullivan, Horatio Sullivan & Family, Kermit Taylor & Family, Lisa Ingraham & Family, Norman Gardiner & Family, Gary & Denise Gibson, the Hilton Family, the Archer, Williams, Beneby, Johnson, Knowles & Jupp Families of Danottage Estates, the Maycocks, Wayne (Butchie) Munnings & Family, Dorsett, Davis, Thompson, the Austin-Coley Family, Derek Smith & Family of Kennedy Subdivision, Terrance & Greta Sweeting, Calvin & Anne Balfour, the Woods Family of Hatchet Bay, Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Smith, Gertrude Clarke & Family, Cynthia Wright & Family, Gladys Saunders & Family, the Rolle Family, Phillip Roberts & Family, Ian Coerbell & Family, the Roberts Family, the Forbes Family of Imperial Park, the Isaacs Family, Patricia Dean & Family, Anita Ellis, Kirk (KB) Bodie & Family, Wilfred Mullings, Tony Fisher, Melvin Smith, Geno Davis (Geno D), Funky D, Lester Turnquest, Dillon McKenzie, Vincent, Andre Pyfrom, Anwar & Chocolate (T’rez’s Dancers), Brian Wilson & Family, Eldece Clarke, Sheena Carroll & Family, Albertha Lynes, Sheena (God-sister), Philip Lightbourne, the Stubbs Family, the Sands Family, Mr. Tomlinson, Bahamas Musician Union, Family Island Friends & Fans, Barr & Family, Lynden Fowler & Family, Sean Riley & Family, Winsome Morris, Carlton McPhee, Marcie (hairdresser), Anya Dorsett & Family, Ms. Beverly White, Idena Burrows & Family, France & Family, Edith Moxey, Leon Williams & Family, Killer “B”, Pencil, Terrible “T”, and many more too numerous to mention.
Special Thanks to: Doctors, Nurses & Administrative Staff of ICU at Doctors Hospital, Mr. Charles Sealy, Dr. Duane Sands, Dr. Kevin Moss, Dr. Michael N’Tari Darville, Dr. Charles Rahming, Dr. Julian Stuart, Dr. Magnus O. Ekedede, The Print Shop, Breezes Hotel, Bethe Brothers Morticians, Michael & Peter Symonette, the Symonette Family, Phil’s Food Service, the MedDentco Health Center Family, Deacon Andrew Burrows, Dr. Curtis O. McMillan, Dr. Mahalet Zewde-McMillan, Mrs. Thelma McMillan & Family, the Batelco Retirees Association, Fr. David Cooper, Fr. Glen Nixon, Holy Family Church, Fr. Thomas Brislin, Monsignor Alfred Culmer, Pastor Eric Clarke, President of the Bahamas Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist, Pastor Leonard Johnson, President of the Bahamas Union of Seventh-Day Adventist, Monsignor Simeon Roberts, & St. Cecilia’s Church.