House pays tribute to ‘keeper of Tech flame’

  • Educator Alfred Carey with “Tech” alumnus DelMonte Davis holds up a picture of the BTI (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Alfred Carey, a dedicated teacher and “keeper of the flame” from almost the inception of the Bermuda Technical Institute, has died at the age of 93.

His passing was marked in the House of Assembly, with Michael Dunkley, the Premier, commending his constituent as a true gentleman, and Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert calling him a key figure at the “Tech”, where he had taught Mr Furbert drawing, and became “a father figure”.

The son of a Dockyard carpenter, Mr Carey had originally expected to become a shipbuilder, later telling this newspaper that he felt too small to “throw all those planks around”.

Trained as a carpenter and schooled at the Berkeley Institute, he studied at the Kingston Technical School in Jamaica on a Bermuda Government Scholarship, and returned home to teach woodwork. He joined the faculty of the BTI in 1961, under the philosophy that “to be a teacher, you have to really enjoy the profession and must have the ability to empathise with all types of people”. His career as an educator went on to span nearly 50 years.

Khalid Wasi, another former “Tech” student, told The Royal Gazette that alumni had been deeply saddened to hear of his passing.

“Mr Carey taught technical drawing, and was the initiator for many of the island’s prominent architects engineers and draftsmen. Technical drawing was also essential to all of the trades, as students were enable to read plans, comprehend drawn instructions and detail their own drawings on subject matter. Mr Carey had a very high success rate of getting students through their GCE exams at both O and A levels.”

As the island’s first integrated school, not just for students but faculty as well, the BTI proved “a test tube within a segregated society”, Mr Wasi said — in which Mr Carey navigated teething issues that included bias from colleagues, which also affected students.

“Mr Carey was a source of refuge, who fought behind the scenes as a warrior with diplomacy,” Mr Wasi said.

“The students never heard of the battles he fought — yet there were many.

“Bermuda Technical Institute became a success that in large measure resulted from teachers like Mr Carey. He was saddened and felt almost displaced and let down by the closure of the BTI, whose worth to Bermuda society he fully realised. He attended the 60th anniversary celebration of the school in September, at which he along with Chesley Trott were the featured surviving teachers at the event.

“Mr Carey will leave us as a respected and loved teacher, and we stand together in condolences with his family for a man whose time and work on this earth deserves mention and is appreciated.”

Another alumnus, Delmonte Davis, hailed Mr Carey as “the keeper of the Tech flame on behalf of the teachers”.

“One could always sense that he was thinking of the Tech, its success, and the unfortunate decisions which took the school out of existence. While serving as a dean at the Bermuda College, it was he who somehow resurrected the list of BTI students, and it is that list from which we work now.”

Mr Davis added: “I believe that it was he who commissioned the pencil or charcoal sketch of the BTI that has appeared in news articles and on our Facebook website. I recall him saying that we were taught how to be, think and solve problems, the important lessons — while working with wood, engines, and so on. I recall that he was one of the black teachers who insisted that, regardless of how we may have been the victims of discrimination, at the Tech we would not discriminate against our fellow white students. I recall, as so many of us do, his passion regarding the BTI.”

Mr Carey, who retired from Bermuda College in 1993, told this newspaper shortly after: “We taught the students to think for themselves. Once you teach a boy how to think, he can go anywhere.”