Barbara Gloudon was devoted to her family and Jamaica
Journalism and theatre icon dies at 87
GLOUDON... received Order of Distinction for her contribution to journalism in 1975 and the Order of Jamaica in 1992

ELEVEN days after her husband’s passing, Barbara Gloudon — veteran broadcaster, theatre legend, and former Jamaica Observer columnist — died Wednesday night at University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew.

Gloudon, who was ailing for some time, was 87.

On Thursday, her daughter Anya Gloudon-Nelson confirmed her mom’s passing, describing her as devoted to her family.

“She was a family person. Devoted to her family her brothers, and sisters and her wider family of Jamaica,” Gloudon-Nelson told the Jamaica Observer.

“It’s kinda surreal. Her granddaughters and her other daughter Lisa are coming down for dad’s funeral. My brother Jason and I are here and dealing with it as best we can,” she continued.

Gloudon and her husband, Ancille, had just celebrated 62 years of marriage on April 23, while he marked his 89th birthday on April 13. He died on April 30. His funeral is scheduled for May 29 at Andrew’s Memorial Church in St Andrew.

Amidst the double tragedy, Gloudon-Nelson still fondly recalled stories about her mom.

“My mother never told her age! She admitted to being 36 for many years until I informed her [that] I, her youngest child, was 36,” she said chuckling.

Gloudon-Nelson used the opportunity to thank Jamaicans for embracing her mother.

“Thank you for being a part of her journey. She loved Jamaica — even when we frustrated her. She once remarked when something was going on down in Negril that if they couldn’t behave we might saw it off mek it float weh,” she said, with a laugh.

Born in Malvern, St Elizabeth, Gloudon (nee Goodison) attended St Andrew High School for Girls. She was the eldest of nine siblings: Howard, Bunny, Carmen (deceased), Kingsley and Karl (twins), Keith, Nigel, and Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna.

Her brother, Kingsley, a musicologist, recalls their last conversation a few weeks ago, which end with mutual expressions of endearment.

“Well, we’re here giving God thanks same way,” he said. “[I] spoke to her a few weeks ago on her birthday, before she got sick. She wasn’t saying much, but mi call har fi hail har up pon har birthday and tell har seh mi love har,” said Kingsley, conceptualiser of Tributes To The Greats awards show.

Goodison, who described his elder sister as a “jokester”, added that she was like a parent to him and their other siblings.

“There was never a dull moment. It was always a laughing matter with her, and she always looked after us… always caring for us,” he said, adding that he had just got off the phone with Howard and they are remaining strong during this time.

Gloudon had a distinguished career as a journalist, which started in the early 1950s at The Gleaner where she rose to become features editor and then editor of The Star. She was honoured with two awards by the Press Association of Jamaica.

In 1969 she began working as a scriptwriter with the Little Theatre Movement (LTM) for which she also became chair.

She also wrote the radio drama Wrong Move, which aired on Radio Jamaica and hosted that station’s mid-morning talk show Hotline for many years.

Between 1969 and 2017 Gloudon penned at least 29 of the LTM’s annual pantomimes, among them Moonshine Anancy, Hail Columbus, Johnny Reggae, The Pirate Princess, and Dapper Dan.

Gloudon was conferred with the Order of Distinction for her contribution to journalism in 1975 and the Order of Jamaica in 1992.

On Thursday Lenford Salmon, her longtime friend and colleague, described Gloudon as an impeccable theatre woman who was nothing short of an excellent team player.

“Her drive was a drive for excellence. She participated in the best writings we wrote. I have worked with writers before, and probably when I got on stage I had a mental block and forgot the script word for word and had to improvise, and they would have an issue… but not her. She was very different. She understood that it was a creative process and sometimes these things would happen because it’s the water and drama. She understood that it was a collaborative effort, and she was willing to lend herself to that creative process. For some of the songs she wrote, sometimes Professor [Rex] Nettleford would change the choreography and she never had a problem,” said Salmon, who is principal of Jambiz International, producers of popular stage productions.

“I remember when we would be writing scripts and I’d say, ‘Bwoy, this nah work, enuh’ and she would respond, ‘Well, mek it work! Change it.’ She understood how important the collaborative process was and didn’t mind the opinion or objections of others,” Salmon continued.

He said he knew her from as far back as the 1980s and would make his way to her home in Gordon Town, St Andrew, every Saturday to indulge in her tasty home-cooked meals.

“My fondest memories are spending time at her home and having the greatest Jamaican gungo peas soup on a Saturday. Even if yuh never waan fi go, the pull of the soup made you go. It was that good. She had a very inviting home. We would sit, write scripts, run through Pantomime…I have such fond memories of her,” Salmon continued.

He said Gloudon has left an indelible mark in local broadcast journalism and was skilled in connecting with her audience.

“She has left a legacy that is undeniable. She was an educated woman, but she understood how to communicate with her people. She would mix her colloquial language with Queen’s English, and was so quintessential in her effort to communicate with the small man. She was close to Miss Lou, so perhaps there’s a connection as they were both able to use language as a tool of communication to reach anybody,” he said.

Kediesha Perry

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