From former Minister of Womens’ Affairs Lorraine Williams
With the sad passing on Friday of Mrs. Heraldine Rock (Ma Rock), Saint Lucians have lost a national treasure. Whether as an educator, a minister of government or as a private citizen, throughout her life Mrs Rock rendered unstinting public service.
She made us proud, not only for her achievements at home, but also abroad whenever she was required to speak in our name.
Long before it became en vogue to talk about women’s rights, Mrs Rock was a no-nonsense advocate. In that regard, she didn’t just talk the talk. Mrs Rock was particularly well known for also walking the walk.
In the 1974 general elections, when few in her own party imagined she stood not even the smallest chance against the formidable George Odlum, Mrs. Rock triumphed despite the ridicule she was subjected to by her opponents.
As a politician, in government or in opposition, Mrs Rock constantly warned against permitting political differences to turn us against one another. Always she reminded her audiences that we owed it to ourselves, and to future generations, always to work in the best interests of Saint Lucia.
Alas, her ideas, obviously ahead of their time, did not always sit well with leading members of her party who saw her cordial relationship with their common opponents as counterproductive to her party’s cause. And she paid the political price. But not before she had established a government desk concerned strictly with women’s affairs which later evolved into the Ministry of Womens’ Affairs which I had the privilege to head.
Among her other firsts: first female to be elected to parliament in Saint Lucia; first government minister officially to be invited to Cuba.
Mrs Rock will be sadly missed and I continue to salute her as a role model, pioneer and trail blazer among us St Lucian Women. May she rest in deserved peace.