Former Principal of St. Andrew High School for Girls and more recently Excelsior Community College, Dr. Dahlia Repole CD, JP, passed away this morning after a valiant struggle with pancreatic cancer.
In March 2010 she made public her diagnosis, saying, “People need to be more aware of the risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer. If my fight with this disease can benefit others, why should I keep it a secret? To help another person makes all of this worth it.”
Dr. Dahlia Repole gave over 40 years of selfless dedicated service in the field of education to the people and country of Jamaica. She served as Principal of St Andrew High School for Girls for 12 years, and later Principal of Excelsior Community College for nine years. She was recognized at the highest levels for her contribution to education, both locally (Order of Distinction - Commander Class) and overseas (Pioneer work in community colleges from the Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association, USA).
In a statement, The St Andrew High School said that the school community “mourns the loss of one of its most illustrious daughters, Dr Dahlia Winsome Repole.”
They continued: “She epitomized the school’s motto of Life More Abundant – excelling academically and professionally as well as in sports. She not only represented her school and Jamaica in hockey but she was also a charismatic and effective science teacher, head of department, Vice Principal and the only Old Girl to serve as Principal of her alma mater.
“We mourn our loving, caring, creative fellow student, teacher, colleague, Principal and friend, and we offer our sincere condolences to her family, friends and the entire community of educators in Jamaica.”
In a 2010 citation on her retirement, The Excelsior Community College lauded Dr. Repole for her enthusiasm and passion for excellence, her concern and positive action for the less privileged and her outstanding vision and leadership, strategic thinking and commercial acumen.
“Under her stewardship,” the citation noted, “Excelsior Community College experienced growth and institutional strengthening, as manifested in the improved programme offerings and accreditation by the University Council of Jamaica.” This led to the introduction of Bachelor’s degrees, expanding enrollment and new campuses in St. Thomas, St. Mary and two locations in Kingston. It also included the establishment of a Community Empowerment Programme in answer to worrying levels of strife in the College’s surroundings.
The glowing citation noted her wide volunteer services, her quiet championship of diversity and equal opportunity, and establishment of dynamic partnerships for the College, locally and internationally.
Dr. Repole served on the Boards of numerous charitable organizations and gave courageous and dedicated service for her country, including in her capacity as a Justice of the Peace. In addition to the CD and Pioneer Awards mentioned above, she was honoured with the Prime Minister’s Medal of appreciation and the Kingston Bookshop Award, for services in the field of education. As well, a building was named in her honour by her alma mater, St. Andrew High School.
Dr. Repole received strong support from family and friends, who joined together to form The Dahlia Repole Foundation (TDRF). Fund-raising towards Dr. Repole’s treatment was the initial goal of TDRF, but the scope broadened much further.
“My mother’s diagnosis with pancan (pancreatic cancer) was devastating,” said Anika Repole Wilson, daughter of Dr. Repole and a Director of TDRF. “But it became apparent that others need to be in the know of this disease. Pancan does not discriminate, and we hope that by lending my mother’s name to this cause, others will be able to benefit through our fundraising and awareness efforts.”
The Dahlia Repole Foundation has high hopes for Early Detection and Prevention Research in Pancreatic Cancer, as well as for enabling the improvement of educational institutions, platforms in which Dr. Repole strongly believed.
Mrs Repole is survived by her children Kenzo and Ida-Chloe Anika; stepchildren Diane, Franz and Leon; a wealth of nieces and nephews whom she regarded as her own; her brothers, other family members, friends, colleagues and students.