By Neil Armstrong
Educator, raconteur and founder of the UWI Alumni AssociationToronto Chapter, Maud Fuller, passed away.
She died at 5 p.m. on January 17 in Toronto at Sunnybrook Hospital. Funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 26 at 2 p.m. at St. Clement’s Church, 70 St. Clements Avenue in the Yonge-Eglinton area. A viewing will be held at 1p.m.
An earlier viewing will be held on Friday, January 25, 6-8 pm at the Murray New bigging Funeral Home at 733 Mt. Pleasant Road.
Born in 1933 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, Fuller attended St. Joseph
Training College where she studied to become a teacher. She pursued higher education and went to the University of the West Indies and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England.
Fuller was a student of Louise Bennett’s (Miss Lou) extra-mural class at the UWI in improvisation. She was encouraged by Miss Lou to audition for the pantomime which she did and became Miss Lou’s understudy. She was also an actor on the JBC programme, “The Lou and Ranny show”.
Fuller migrated to Canada and was employed as a teacher with the Toronto Board of Education.
Her strong sense of “giving back” resulted in her countless hours working with the UWI Alumni Association, Toronto Chapter. Her contribution was acknowledged when in 2010 she received the UWI Vice Chancellor’s Award.
For many years she taught special education. When the number of students from the Caribbean began to increase in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she became an invaluable asset to the Board. She helped the teachers to understand the culture and language of the students. Several videos were produced -- “See mi ya”-- which were used not just in the Toronto Board but also in other Metro Boards with Caribbean background students, as well as at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Education where she was a lecturer.
Thus teacher candidates were provided with information which interpreted the Caribbean background child to Canadian teachers. In this way teachers would be better able to assist these students in their journey of education in a new land.
Having been involved with Miss Lou in Jamaica, Fuller had a deep understanding Jamaican folk songs and culture. For many years she worked with the Heritage Singers as they developed their repertoire of Jamaican folk songs to perform for the community.
In 2012, the Chapter marked its 25th anniversary by paying tribute to her.
“Our working relationship as president and secretary of the UWI Alumni Association for 20 years (1988 - 2008) was indeed testament to the bond we had formed and trust we had in each other. She was such a talented person. With her "sweet talk" she was able to win over enough people to join the both of us to form the alumni association.
She was very skillful at choosing the members of the committee and in this way was always able to get all those wonderful and creative ideas that she came up with implemented successfully. She was the consummate organizer and "money-maker."
She conducted our meetings with such charm and wit that it was indeed a pleasure for the members to do her bidding. Her deep passion for UWI inspired us to follow her lead and this passion has certainly contributed to the vibrancy of the UWI Alumni Association (Toronto Chapter.) She will be truly missed,” Jean Patterson said.
“Miss Fuller lived a full, spiritual life, and left her marks, in Jamaica,
and Canada. She will be missed by, children, relatives, friends and
alumni, as well as the many students, both young and old, she taught, in Jamaica and Canada,” said Fabian Coverley, the son of the late Eric Coverley and Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou).
Fuller was a longtime friend of Miss Lou and eulogized her when she died in 2006 in Toronto.She hosted the late Professor Rex Nettleford at her home during his many visits to Toronto to promote the university.
Byron Beckford, a dancer, says Fuller was an inspiration to him in every way. Shortly after he arrived in Toronto from Jamaica, Beckford performed at St. Clements Church, the church she attended. Fuller was impressed with the performance, invited him to lunch and became a loving grandmother figure to him. She contributed towards his tuition while he was a dance student.
“She was a phenomenal woman who always pushed me to do more. I feel that I owe her so much that I want to celebrate her life in dance at any event to commemorate her,” he said.
At her request, Fuller will be cremated and her remains interred in Jamaica after a memorial service at the UWI Chapel, Mona campus at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UWI Alumni Association (Toronto Chapter), c/o D. Hutchinson, 211 Jefferson Forest Drive, Richmond Hill, ON L4E 4K2.