– Class First President Winston Tubman is keynote speaker at honoring ceremony in Dallas, Texas
The Class of 1959 of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) has been singled out to be honored by the BWI Alumni Association in North America (BWIAANA).
Announcing this unprecedented tribute during a recent visit to Liberia, Mr. Eric Harris, BWIAANA President, said the honoring ceremony will take place at the Association’s annual convention, scheduled for June 30, 2017 in Dallas, Texas, United States of America.
The BWIAANA Executive Committee has chosen Counselor Winston Tubman, first elected President of the Class of ’59, to deliver the keynote address at the Dallas Convention.
Counselor Tubman and his brother Robert were among over 70 students enrolled as BWI freshmen in February 1956.
At a dinner hosted by class of ’59 member Kenneth Y. Best and his wife Mae Gene at their Paynesville residence, BWIAANA President Harris explained the reason for the Association’s historic decision to honor the class. He told several members of the class attending the dinner, “that we have seen the fingerprints of this Class of 1959 in many places not only in Liberia but also in the United States and around the world.”
“The works of this class,” said Mr. Harris, “have made all Tigers proud and members of the BWIAANA Executive Committee decided to bestow honor on whom honor is due, as a means of inspiring other BWI alumni to work conscientiously and diligently in their various vocations in service to humanity, the Liberian nation and the world at large.”
“Tiger” is the emblem of BWI.
The dinner guests included the current BWI principal, Harris Tarnue, former principal Alex Massey and electrical engineer Emmanuel Lawrence, a BWI alumnus and lead Liberian engineer on the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro-Electric plant.
Members of the Class of ‘59 present at the dinner were retired electrical engineer Sneh Gurley, the class’s football captain when, as sophomores, they beat all other classes on campus in 1957; Professor Eric Eastman, an agricultural and mechanical engineer who has taught at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry for over 50 years and is still teaching there; and Mr. Sam Ricks, a hydrological engineer who worked for many years at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (LME) and has been for decades a hydrological consultant.
Another Class of ’59 member present at the dinner was Mr. Abayomi Glover, a German–trained businessman who was once managing director of the Airport Catering Service at Roberts International Airport, supplying food to all the international airlines, including Pan American, Swissair, KLM, Nigeria Airways and Ghana Airways, landing at RIA.
Also present at the dinner were the two Tubman brothers, Robert and Winston, both of whom graduated from Harvard Law School and also served as Cabinet ministers in the Liberian government. Robert once served as Finance Minister and Winston as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Robert was also once Director General of the ECOWAS Fund in Lome, Togo and managing director of the international shipping agency FEDEX in Brussels, Belgium. Robert is currently chairman of the Liberia Revenue Authority and was recently the recipient of an award from his alma mater, Harvard Law School.
Winston has served for many years in senior legal positions in the United Nations system in Kenya, in Kosovo and at the UN headquarters in New York.
Mr. Best is founder and publisher of Liberia’s first independent daily newspaper, Daily Observer, and the Gambian Daily Observer, that country’s first daily newspaper, now 25 years old and still that country’s leading periodical. The Bests established the Gambian daily when the family sought exile in The Gambia during the Liberian civil conflict.
Mr. Best holds the title as one of International Press Institute’s – IPI’s 60 “World Press Heroes.” and received the accolade thrice—Boston, 2000, Vienna, 2010 and Cape Town, 2013. Mr. Best is named a World Press Hero that has been persecuted in two countries—his own, Liberia, and The Gambia, from where in October 1994 he was deported by the military dictator Yahya Jammeh, who was himself recently forced out of office by ECOWAS.
Three of the class’ female members were Ellen Burke Fallah Praal, an executive secretary; Rachel Smith Tubman, a businesswoman; and Mignonette Diggs McClain, a leading Liberian environmentalist who now serves as director general of Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Among other outstanding members of the Class of ’59 are Elijah Tuazama Blegeh Dahn, a nurse; Kalongo Luo; Reginald Dolopei, a brilliant and budding architect who died early; Dionysius Williams, a mathematician working in California; Charles Davis, senior accountant at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the 1970s through 80s; Colonel Arthur Bedell, who became a pilot.
Two members of the class of ’59 became generals in the Liberian Armed Forces—Paul H. Perry and Mansfield Yancy. The class’s dux, Dr. Jerry Sauser, obtained a PhD in Agriculture in the USA.
One of the Class of 59’s most celebrated exponents is Captain Prince Augustus Page, who became Liberia’s first jet pilot. In addition to flying President William R. Tolbert Jr. to many parts of the world, Captain Page flew jets for Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the United States, before retiring. It was he who in the 1980s trained Nigerian jet pilots on the Air Bus in Paris.
There is also William Aquila Cox, German-trained architect and civil engineer, who started his own company, Aquila Construction Company and erected one of the largest buildings on Sinkor Old Road, Monrovia, leased by the Liberian government for decades as headquarters of the Liberia Institute for Public Administration. During the Charles Taylor years, Aquila voluntarily maintained many of Monrovia’s dilapidated streets.