Above Dr. Claire Broadridge with her son Stephen in the garden in St.Ann’s Port of Spain Trinidad late 60’s
Eulogy for Dr. Claire Broadridge: August 2nd 1937- September 2nd 2017
Dr. Claire Broadridge was a force of nature. A woman forever on a mission she changed landscapes, buildings and lives. I know this because I worked for her as a young sculptor for three consecutive summers in the mid 90’s when she was the Director of the National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago, opening her home to me while we worked on a project to transform an old fort in by the water in downtown Port of Spain into a tourist attraction celebrating the ethnicities and culture of Trinidad and Tobago. I had countless adventures with Claire during those summers and met so many artists, sea captains, poets and politicians it sometimes made my head spin. Claire knew everyone and saw the possibilities in everyone often stretching those possibilities to their limits. I know she stretched mine asking me to sculpt my first Portrait ever in front of colleagues from Trinidad and the Smithsonian Museum… thus bringing a trajectory in Portrait Sculpture I still continue to this day.
Claire was entrenched in Trinidad’s history always recounting what the architecture and landscape of her childhood was like as we buzzed about town and I began to see Trinidad’s rich tapestry of culture, history and incredible flora and fauna through her eyes. But Claire did not only look backwards she looked forwards as well with her keen vision and excellent sense of design I saw how downtown Port of Spain might be transformed into utopian tree lined walking streets with cafes and shops lining its Port. Claire was a visionary exemplified from the gracious home and garden she created and entertained from in St. Ann’s to how she envisioned Port of Spain’s future and perhaps the feat she is most well known for transforming the National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago into a place all Trinidadians can be proud of today.
One occasion out of the countless excursions we went on together really stands out in my mind when I think about Claire. We were driving in the Trinidad countryside through the rain forest when we came across a small-impoverished town. Claire spotted a tiny church by the roadside whose roof was crumbling in bad repair. Instead of driving on and merely remarking on it, as many would have done. Claire pulled to the side of the road and began speaking with the man working on the Church’s façade. Before I knew it she was embroiled in a lengthy discussion with the Pastor of the Church about the roof and had made arrangements to get a new roof for the Church. Just like that that Church had a new roof! That was Claire. Claire was always thinking of opportunities for improvement and growth and human connection wherever she went. She saw the good in people and made people rise to the occasion. Her powerful presence and the intricate colorful world she introduced me to in Trinidad as a young woman remain with me to this day.
Claire influences the way I think, teach, make art and inspires me to be better than I am. Claire was a beautiful example of what it is to be a positive force ever devoted to her Church, her international host of friends, her children, Catherine, Christopher and Stephen, her beloved grandchildren and to making her country and the world a better place. I feel honored to have known her. I already miss her but I know she will live on in the hearts and souls of the countless people she touched.
With Love Mara G. Haseltine