Jackie and Larry Armony
Two persons from two different upbringing, like two voices. Two hearts but one love and a common recognition of their creole heritage that contributed greatly to the history and heritage of St. Kitts and Nevis. They have earned the right to be proud, mainly because they are humble but yet passionate about love while truly exhibiting 47 years of marriage and more than 100 collective years of work preserving our Heritage, Theatre Arts, Cultural and Environmental Awareness on St. Kitts and Nevis. They are Larry and Jacqueline Armony the son of a Basseterre sugar factory clerk and nurse and the daughter of a South African doctor and a second-generation Spanish- French Kittitian mother.
Born in Trinidad, Jaqueline Armony née Cramer has called St. Kitts home for most of her life. She received her primary education in Trinidad and St. Kitts, and attended secondary school in Barbados. In 1971, she graduated from McGill University in Canada with a BA majoring in French. She taught at the Secondary and 6th form levels in St. Kitts for 24 years before resigning in 1995 to take up the position of Executive Director of the St. Christopher Heritage Society (SCHS).
Larry Lucien Armony was born in St. Kitts in 1946. He was educated in St. Kitts up to Secondary (High School) level and later at the University of the West Indies Jamaica in 1968-71 where he read Economics and History but did not graduate. He worked in Banking in St. Kitts and Anguilla after leaving Secondary School, and taught Caribbean History and European History at the Basseterre High School (1972-73) before becoming Principal of a small Primary School. Larry lived in Trinidad from 1976-86 where he was engaged as a teacher, construction worker and farmer.
The story began in the 1970s when individually, Larry and Jackie initiated and implemented formal and informal programs of cultural and environment awareness. Larry radicalized while a university student in Jamaica to the extent that he, along with three other students were suspended after taking over the university’s Creative Art Centre and introduced indigenous culture and the revelation of Rastafari to the Centre for the first time. On his return to St. Kitts, he got involved in theatrical production and began to promote the awareness of the “African roots” of the Caribbean culture, that brought him in contact with the young Jacqueline Cramer who taught Ballet and Afro- Caribbean dance at the MIS Hall.
Naturally a connection, like a bridge, nestled between Larry and Jackie bringing both not only to connect but collaborate on matters surrounding the disappearance of our traditional culture, statehood celebrations, the multi- genre production and the list goes on. But most of all, it led to their marriage in 1974 and later, the birth of two children, a daughter and a son.
Because of the close association between Jackie’s Okolo drummers and Larry’s Tegremantine Dancers these were also united in a marriage and a fusion of combined energies which birthed the Okolo Tegremantine Arts Theatre in 1973. The rest, as we say, is history.
History, because they both shared the same love for our heritage and, after quickly realizing the lack of awareness in our people the Armony’s established a National Museum and began to retrieve artifacts languishing abroad. In 1989 another birth too place, this time it was the birth of the St. Christopher Heritage Society with Jackie as its first President and Larry as the Secretary. Larry continued his quest to reclaim St. Kitts’ culture and natural heritage and in 1990 became General Manager of the Federation’s most outstanding heritage site, Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park where he served for 19 years.
Jackie’s vision and passion were critical for her role as the first President of the
St. Christopher Heritage Society and one of the first directors of the converted
St. Christopher National Trust, formed by an ACT of Parliament in 2009. Her tenure as Executive Director of the St. Christopher Heritage Society ended on 31st May 2006, eleven years after she first assumed the mantle of responsibility for leading the Society. During those years Jackie oversaw the growth of the Society into one of the leading non-governmental organizations on St. Kitts and she took a lead role in the restoration of the Treasury Building and the establishment of the National Museum.
It was not by might but by the continued energies and efforts put out by the Armony’s which added to our understanding of previously ignored or undocumented local history.
Today Larry still continues to demonstrate his passion by expressing his love for St. Kitts in songs and poetry while, even though retired, Jackie continues to lend her knowledge in support of the preservation of our heritage.
Larry and Jackie have established a legacy of commitment to the culture and heritage of St. Kitts for over 40 years. They have committed most of their adult life to the job of nation building. As advocates for the protection of our tangible and intangible heritage – our architecture, environment, folklore, performing and visual arts – they have emphasized the importance of preserving our national identity from which future generations will benefit.
Source: St. Kitts and Nevis Visitor Magazine 2010