My thanks to Dr. Errol King who made this eulogy available.
William M. Lopey (1894-1968) Eulogy by Victor A.A. Archer.
William Marcus Lopey died on Thursday, August 8, and with him….education lost one of its sincerest devotees. He was 74.
He was born in Boscobel, St. Peter on September 27, 1894. He received his early schooling at the Parry School under the late Rev. H.G. Carrington and the late Joseph Elliott Blackman and subsequently won an Island Scholarship to Codrington College where he graduated Bachelor of Arts during the Principalship of Bishop Anstey. He was later admitted to the degree of Master of Arts.
Soon after graduating, he served for a short time on the staff of the Parry School, and then proceeded to St. Lucia as Classical Master in St. Mary’s College. In 1918, he was appointed Classical Master and Assistant Inspector of Schools at the St. Vincent Grammar School under the late great Frederick William Reeves. There he served for 37 years and rose to be Headmaster in the last 15 years.
On retirement (1955) he returned to Barbados where he held appointments on the staff of Harrison College and the Combermere School, and acted as the headmaster of the Alleyne School for two years. He also acted as Resident Tutor in the Extra-Mural Department of the U.W.I. in Bridgetown, Barbados.
With the passing of William M. Lopey, the West Indies has lost an outstanding teacher. Like so many of the teachers in the schools of the West Indies at that time, Mr. Lopey was a Barbadian and very proud of it. His career in the Windward Islands filled a gap between the early days of teaching by such men as Reeves, Carrington, Blackman, H.H. Pilgrim, and the present time.
Among his other distinguished colleagues …E.C.M. Theobalds and E. De V. Archer are happily still with us. He will be sadly missed by his many friends and colleagues who owe so much to the wise help and advice he always gave so generously.
In the classroom, he taught Latin, English Literature and he will be remembered as a very active and conscientious teacher, and a measure of his stature is to be found in the number of his “old boys” who hold so many important posts throughout the Caribbean and beyond, and with distinction. They can bear eloquent testimony to his great contribution to the field of education.
I write simply as a former pupil, his colleague and close personal friend whom he never failed to impress with his wide knowledge and personal insight.
William M. Lopey was a modest, kind, Victorian and courteous person, conservative in outlook and always ready to listen to the other person’s point of view. His advice was always sought by his friends and colleagues; he was a man with deep and sincere human feeling.
His approach to people and at meetings was always formal and tended to conceal his very acute understanding of the problems with which he dealt. He was a good scholar with untiring industry; his knowledge was encyclopaedic.
Apart from his distinction as a classical scholar, his memory will be cherished for his human qualities of loyalty and generosity, for his dignity of demeanour and for the enlightment in his talk. He brought to his task the measured dignity which characterised all his actions.
His students were attracted by his earnestness, his overflowing energy and keen intelligence. There was a magnificence about him and grand manner, which is sadly to seek in the world of today, and we shall miss his noble presence in this world full of pettiness and weakness.
Some will rate his achievements as modest, but his wholehearted devotion to teaching will surely entitle him to high honour among teachers. As a man he was intensely
reserved but with a sense of humour. He was dedicated to the educational betterment of youth, and his former students remember him as a taskmaster capable of some acerbity and asperity of manner, though a kindly and understanding one who, by his very discipline, could inspire less brilliant minds.
He never failed to acknowledge the debt he owed to Reeves, Carrington, and Blackman. When Blackman conceived the idea of a Windward Island Inter-school sports Tournament, and got welcome support from Reeves, Mr. Lopey was quick to see the social, political and educational benefits of these Tournaments.
It was from Blackman that he learned to cultivate his deep love for the classics and from Carrington his appreciation of English Literature. It was a pleasure to hear him recite stanza after stanza of Tennyson’s “In Memorian” and the beautiful lines of Thomas More’s “Laliab Rooke”.
He was an active Freemason. Unhappiness came to him in l936; his wife, the former Lucy Connell died a few days before Christmas. He is survived by one son and two daughters. He will be missed by all who knew him, and especially by those who had the privilege of working with him.
He had a wonderful memory for his old students, and a warm interest in their careers. Such was the life of this lovely and unassuming man – a man of character and a good friend.
At the Westbury cemetery, the splendid tribute where hundreds gathered for the final ceremony, the service in the chapel, the Dean’s tribute, the long procession, the masses of flowers, the deep grief in the faces of all will indeed be a lasting memory to his family and his friends.
We honour the memory of the complete man, and in saying a reluctant farewell to this memory, it is to his beloved Horace we turn: “Omnes eodem coginur”...and to Marshall’s translation:
To the same Bourne we are driven;
In the urn for all DEATH spins a lot that ere long be cast.
And each in Charon’s boat at last,
To endless exile call…..