An Icon Passes

An icon is gone. At the age of 79, Robert Devaux passed away leaving a legacy that will live on in St Lucia forever. He was a true patriot and his love for his country was evident in everything he did. He was a conservationist, a historian, a hertiage specialist, whose passion was the preservation of St Lucia’s heritage. His accomplishments were many and varied: most St Lucians consider the creation of Pigeon Island National Park his greatest achievement, but he was proudest of establishing the St Lucia National Archives for the preservation of records.

Sadly, he spent too much time fighting to be heard. Imagine how much more of our heritage would be preserved for future generations if there were more people like him. He lost some of his hardest fought battles: when he tried to stop the development between the Pitons, he was relieved of his duties on the board of the Development Control Authority; his proposal to create a wetland at  La Tourney was shot down by the Port Authority; and his effort to save the east coast trail (four miles of trail that he built single-handedly) fell on deaf ears when the developers of Le Paradis started talking.

He had a vision for St Lucia — one that put conservation and heritage preservation on a par with development. He was a realist:  he never tried to prevent development; instead he preached sustainable development. He never rejected a project without suggesting an alternative that would accomplish similar economic goals without compromising the nation’s heritage. He despaired of how much we have squandered, but he would want us to fight for what little is left of our beaches, our rainforests, our wildlife, and our
historic sites. He believed in our duty to make our little piece of the world a little better. He certainly did that.

Despite his very public work and numerous awards, Robert was a very private person. His two favourite pastimes were doing research and building trails. In the last few months, he had to give up working on trails, but he continued doing research and writing.

He was a shining example to his four children, a hero to his nine grandchildren, and a father-figure to so many more who looked up to him. We know he is in a better place now and, although we miss him, we know he must be enjoying his unspoiled paradise in heaven. Always in our hearts. Our icon. Our hero.

Robert J. Devaux passed away on Tuesday, April 16, 2013  at age of 79. He is survived by his brother, Francis; his wife, Pam; his children: Stephen, Tracey, Gayle, and Richard; his grandchildren: Andre, Demi, Dayna, Tyler, Dylan, Joshua, Isabelle, Olivia, and Jaimie; son-in-law, Carlos; daughters-in-law: Maran, Allison, and Desmer; and nephews: Patrick, Bryan, Sean, and Gary and their families. The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, April 24, 20 at 2.30 pm at St Joseph the Worker Church, Gros Islet.

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