Saint Lucia loses another Iconic Figure

Yesterday, Friday February 12, 2016, the family and friends of Hildreth Sanchez SLPM (Gold), BSCE, B.Sc. M.S.E. bade him farewell as he was laid to rest at the Choc cemetery. This, after moving tributes at the La Clery parish church to a man who had helped set the foundation for what is now the Water and Sewerage Authority. He and his wife had also been the proprietors of what was once known as “Sanchez gas station” on Chaussee road. He was predeceased by his wife and leaves behind two sons, Ian and Andreas Sanchez, and two daughters, Hazel and Jackie Sanchez. Hildreth Sanchez passed away on Monday February 1 at his home in Sans Souci after a prolonged illness. He was 82.

“My grandfather Hildreth Sanchez approached life with such pragmatism and enthusiasm. My grandfather was a man who not only spoke about excellence but he displayed it every day of his life. He lived a positive, successful life; he was called ‘Boss’ by his employees, children and even his grandchildren. ‘Boss’ was an ambitious, dedicated, intrinsically motivated, insightful man who, like any other Samarian, believed that the top is reached by striving,” recalled one of his grandchildren, Miguel Sanchez, during the Eulogy.

(Left) Friends and family of the late Hildreth Sanchez gather to pay tribute Friday. (Right) The late Hildreth M. Sanchez.

(Left) Friends and family of the late Hildreth Sanchez gather to pay tribute Friday. (Right) The late Hildreth M. Sanchez.

HILDRETH MARTIN SANCHEZ was born on 12th November, 1933, the son of Wallace Sanchez and Eulalie Dubois. He attended RC Boys School from 1938 and then, in 1945, entered the St. Mary’s College graduating in 1951. After graduating from SMC he entered the Civil Service where he was assigned to the Public Works Department as a Clerk. His three-year assignment exposed him to engineering that sparked in him the ambition of becoming a Civil Engineer. Hildreth then attended the Queens University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada in September 1954 and in May 1959 he graduated with a BSc in Civil Engineering. Upon his graduation he remained in Canada and worked for Bell Telephone Co.

In 1960 Hildreth was appointed executive engineer in Saint Lucia at what was then known as the Ministry of Public Works and was the overseer of all new roads throughout the island as well as the extension of the Vigie airport. This stint was cut short after he was awarded a World Health Organization (WHO) fellowship to study for a Master of Science Engineering Degree in Sanitary Engineering at John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated in 1963 and the following year returned to Saint Lucia and the Public Works Department as a Water Engineer with responsibility for the island water supply, all except Castries which was managed by the Council.

The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) was formed in 1967 and Hildreth Sanchez was seconded to the new company, headquartered at Barnard’s Hill. That year the assets of the Castries Water Supply were transferred to the Water Authority. He later acted in the capacity of Secretary/Manager between 1978-1979. In 1989, together with Winville King and John M. Calixte, Hildreth Sanchez produced the document ‘Water and Sewerage Authority: Brief History 1965 –1985’. It was WASA’s documentation of its 20th anniversary, reproduced as a souvenir to commemorate Saint Lucia’s 10th anniversary of Independence.

Each year, the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) identifies distinguished Caribbean practitioners in Water, Wastewater, Solid Waste and Environmental Sectors; in 1992 Hildreth and John Calixte were recognized with the Distinguished Service Gold Award from CWWA. As part of Independence Day 2002 celebrations, Hildreth Martin Sanchez was awarded the Les Pitons Medal (Gold). In March 2014 the Association of Professional Engineers of Saint Lucia acknowledged a number of engineers for their sustained and outstanding contributions to the field of engineering. Hildreth M. Sanchez was inducted as an Honourary Member of the Association.

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