Rest in peace, CK
By O.J. Seraphin
We always remember our pioneers and heroes only when they have passed. We often forget to give flowers to those alive and even give laurels to those, who on examination, is a figment of persuasive authority intent on giving the honour to those who do not deserve and casting a spell of ignominy to those who contributed.
C. K. Shillingford passed last week. He was a lifelong friend who with me charted innovative courses mirroring our career paths. Our early connection at the Dominican Grammar School forged a friendship which contributed to the halcyon days of our lives.
He joined me and others leaving high schools to form the Empire Club where leaders were nurtured .Edison James and I became national leaders; Symes Zee, Denis Joseph, Henzie Wilson, James Belle, Henry Elwin, Telford Shillingford, Byshe Lartigue, Geirge Riviere, James Belle, Winston Warrington, deceased Richie Hill, Julius Corbette are some of those who have served this country at home and abroad in several disciplines.
CK, like me, did travel abroad and qualified to be life underwriters. On returning to Dominica we both were debit managers with British American Life. We became partners in a boutique on River Street-The Velvet Lizard- specializing in art curios and new-culture-tourism-related souvenirs.
We did have a huge impact on the social culture of Dominica with the advent of the Green Lantern Club where the Deep Water Harbour is now located. The Green Lantern was home to all the earlier bands of the day-Swinging Stars, Bells Combo, Gaylords and hosted
Sparrow as well as the St Lucia band, the Quavers. The club was the most popular of the day hosting hundreds on Friday night party as a club activity began there with the happy hour. Weekends were very active including a souse and or Sunday punch party. Dominica then had a huge social mobility.
I recall that after 12 dances on Christmas and New Year we both purchased new Vauxhall sports model cars whilst I had a new Hillman Hunter. Those were the halcyon days indeed!
CK was the life of the party and with Symes Zee gatecrashed even funerals, weddings and christenings.
The highlight of our career paths dovetailed when CK went to flying school and returned. We pioneered Dominica first local airline, Dominica Airways, with first one then 2 DC 3 with an 8,000 lb. payload carrying 28 passengers.
We transported groups like the Swinging Stars and the Grammax on their maiden voyage to Guadeloupe as a gift to my friends Jeff. We frequently flew for Acme Motors Marketing Board; then began an agricultural export business ourselves with our base in Wesley through Rock Robin, who, coincidentally departed on the same day as CK.
We joint-ventured with Air Martinique and on my election as Minister of Aviation, CK went to the US Virgin Islands.
There he made his mark contributing to Dominica by being the main carrier of Dominicans from St. Thomas and agricultural produce to St. Thomas.
Medical needs of the country gave to me, as Minister of Aviation, the vision to introduce Canfield as a viable airport close to Roseau
At a meeting with Sir Bruce Greatbach, Premier Patrick John had proposed an international airport which the British rejected. I then proposed the Canfield airport and this was accepted subject to a feasibility study which proved it was possible. This was called the playboy airstrip by Eugenia Charles.
May you rest in peace, CK.