Esme Viola Harrigan Chinnery was born on Thursday, August 28, 1930, on the beautiful island of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands to Rose and James Harrigan, Sr. She was the eighth of 11 children and the last surviving child of her parents. She grew up in Savan, the cultural mecca of St. Thomas, with her siblings (Evelyn, James Jr., Ivan, and Isborne (twins), Elaine, Irene, Leando, Una, and Utah (twins), and Doris).
Esme, affectionately called “Mamalita” by family and close friends, attended public schools in St. Thomas and graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1949. Esme was the proud mother of Al(deceased), Glenn, Wayne(deceased), Patrice, Shirlyn, Lavonne, Erwyn, Kent, and Julene. She devoted many years as a stay-at-home Mom where she instilled in her children the practice of good manners, studying to move ahead educationally and financially, and respecting their elders. As a result of her training and nurturing, we can see where some of her good attributes are already manifested in her children.
Her daughter Julene and sons Erwyn and Glenn inherited her passion for gardening. Her daughter Patrice loves arts and crafts, crocheting, and sewing. Lavonne and Shirlyn bake some of the best Vienna cakes, and Tarts, and Kent loves traveling. After raising her children Esme worked as a teacher for several years before commencing work with the Department of Education as an Attendance Counselor where she retired after 15 years of service.
Esme was a very gentle, caring person who enjoyed being around her children and grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoyed gardening, baking, crocheting, arts and crafts, and often embellished garments, lampshades, towels, cushions, and draperies by adding beads, lace, and crochet trimmings to them. Esme loved baking Vienna and Ribbon cakes, and would usually make them on Sundays.
She loved parties and hosted many for her children, where the highlight was her delicious homemade ice cream. The guests would stand in line to help manually turn the handle of the ice cream maker. She even hosted parties for herself when she visited her children in New York. Esme was very sociable and attended many events with her nieces, Enola and Elise in St. Thomas.
Esme loved to travel and enjoyed flying or cruising to the many places of interest she chose to visit over the years. She encountered several of her former staff members in the Caribbean Islands when she took cruises and many of “her students” on the busy streets of New York. The students would say “Hi, Mrs. Chinnery, what are you doing here?”, and she would respond “the same thing you are doing.” She could easily be dubbed the “Special Maker Extraordinaire” for St. Thomas. Her delectable Specials, made from 100 percent juice, were just unique. Anyone tasting one of her milk, soursop, guava, pineapple, tamarind, or guavaberry Specials, had to have more than one.
In 2010 Esme decided to move to Tampa, Florida to live with her two daughters. While in Tampa, she was able to continue her favorite passion, which was gardening. She would spend hours in her garden, and neighbors and friends would often compliment her on how beautiful the gardens were. She joined the Tampa Rare Fruit Plant Club and added more plants to her collection. She also enjoyed attending various State Agriculture Fairs over the years throughout Florida.
Esme was a member of Christ Church Methodist and attended church regularly at 6:30 am while residing in St. Thomas. She loved the Lord and regularly sang her favorite hymns and recited her favorite psalm. She also attended the Souls Harbor Church of God in Tampa.
On March 18, 2021, Esme quietly slipped away to her heavenly home. She will always be loved and remembered for the many happy memories that were shared with her beloved family and friends. May she rest peacefully as her family members are comforted with the thought, “that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8.
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