By Dr. Joe Gbaba
The Honorable Body of Dehkontee Artists Theatre has lost one of its gems and pillars, Mrs. Felicia Gaye-Wright. She passed on the 20th of January 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A. Mrs. Wright served as Vice Chair of DATI’s Ways and Means Committee and she was very instrumental in the establishment of the DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Centers Project in Liberia.
Felicia Gaye-Wright was a descendant of Krahn royalty. She was the daughter of Honorable David Kwidee Gaye and Mrs. Helen Yancy-Acquah of Maryland County. Her father and younger brother, David Gaye, Jr. predeceased her. Felicia is survived by her mother Mrs. Hellen Yancy-Acquah and sister Sarah Gaye, several nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins and members of the Genabo Clan of Gbabo-bli, Grand Gedeh County, Republic of Liberia.
Honorable David Kwidee Gaye’s ancestry is linked to the legendary Krahn leader named Grear-Gbabo, one of the patriarchs of the Genabo Clan. It is one of the Tchien Menyen Clans of the Krahn ethnic group of Liberia. He originated from the Tchien town called Gbabo-bli, which was named for the legendary Krahn leader Grear-Gbabo.
In addition, David Gaye, Sr. was Chief Sponsor of Gaye Sumu Football and Athletic Club in the early 1970s. It was organized by Dr. Joe Gbaba in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County. Also, Honorable Gaye was Dr. Gbaba’s cousin and chief sponsor. He was very supportive of Gbaba’s artistic ingenuity and the Dehkontee Artists Theatre productions that became a household name when the latter was a student at the University of Liberia. Hence, as the old folks usually say, Felicia was every spit of her dad, “a chip of the old block”. She was very generous, polite, and a people-person. Mrs. Felicia Gaye-Wright was a beautiful angel inside and outside.
I first met my little Cousin Felicia at St. Philomena’s Catholic School in Zwedru in 1969 when she was nine years old. She was amazingly pretty, and she had a luring smile that attracted everyone to her. Besides, Felicia was so affectionate and humble that she became well-loved by the students of St. Philomena’s and the residents of Zwedru City. She was indeed the pride of not only the Gaye family but the Krahn people of Liberia.
I recall back in the day St. Philomena’s Catholic School staged a queen contest to raise funds to roof some of the buildings on the Catholic campus. Felicia contested and her dad displayed that day! He demonstrated his love for and pride in his daughter and made sure Felicia’s class raised the highest amount of dollars so his daughter would be crowned the Queen of St. Philomena’s Catholic School that year!
As Queen of St. Philomena’s Catholic School Felicia represented the institution very well. She was very graceful, respectful and always very neat. Though she could not speak the Krahn language well, Felicia was never embarrassed to say a few sentences in Krahn however lousy it sounded when she spoke it. Most times I joked her when she wanted to say, “Good morning” (“Zon zine”) but said “Hello” (“Ownh tahyee oh”) instead. Nonetheless, she loved her cultural heritage and that was mainly what drew her to Dehkontee Artists Theatre. She was also a very peaceful person and she was very passionate about the establishment of a war and economic crimes court. As daughter of a law enforcement officer Felicia vehemently opposed rebellious activities in Liberia. For this reason, we both shared the same view about the need to establish a war crimes court. Most times she even urged me to run for public office and offered to serve as one of my campaign managers! Felicia was a true patriotic Liberian. She did not play when it came to rule of law in Liberia!
Mrs. Felicia Gaye-Wright was appointed on the Board of Directors of Dehkontee Aritists Theatre in 2017. Later, she served as Vice Chair of DATI’s Ways and Means Committee. In this capacity she raised thousands of dollars to fund DATI’s Kukatonon Peace Project in Liberia. Though she lived in Colorado, distance was not a problem to deter her from attending major events and fundraisers DATI held over the years. Whenever she visited us and attended any of our functions, everyone admired her graceful appearances and presence. My children and grandchildren were very attached to their cousin. They were disheartened they never had the opportunity to bid their beloved cousin farewell because she meant the world to them.
Felicia was very family oriented. She loved children and she always supported their dreams. She established very close bonds with my children, and they loved having her around on holidays and whenever she could find time out of her very busy schedule to visit the Gbaba family.
The photo above was taken during Felicia’s last visit in February a year ago. As if she wanted to say “Good-bye” to the Gbaba family, she ordered that all our children must be present during her last visit to celebrate her 60th Birth Anniversary with her. Nearly all my children and grandchildren came at the beck of Felicia’s call. We had a very warm birthday party and she was very appreciative of the honor we bestowed upon her for she was our beloved cousin and princess that we all adored very much!
When Felicia left us to return to Colorado, little did we expect she would get injured and be hospitalized. I flew to Aurora, Colorado to represent DATI at her bedside in the University of Colorado Hospital.
Felicia was lively and she was very happy to see me fly over to see her. We held normal conversations and she appeared to be making progress after her surgery before she was transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina. Unfortunately, this would be our last moment together. Felicia may your soul rest in peace!