This morning I learnt that one of my favourite centenarian- William “Kenny” Industrious passed away at age 104. I’ve interviewed him several times in the course of four years and after each interview, I left so full of life.
He was a very fun, loving and truthful person. Mr. Industrious would always ask me “so you ain’t find a good man from here to marry yet? Man, what you waiting for?”
I’ll miss his jokes! Rest on my Tuksy!
I dug up my first article of him.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as i enjoyed writing it!
‘Kenny’ cooks, plays harmonica
By NGOVOU GYANG
It was minutes past 10 a.m. at William Industrious’ Cane Garden Bay home on Tuesday — time for him to have his daily dose of coffee.
He walked into his kitchen and boiled some water. Then he put a few crackers and some cheese on a plate, and his breakfast was complete.
Mr. Industrious, who is affectionately referred to as “Kenny,” marked his 100th birthday on Monday.
In his living room, there were bouquets of flowers, gift baskets, cards and pictures of him with his friends and family.
“You ain’t see nothing yet,” Mr. Industrious said, explaining that he had received even more flowers on Sunday during a birthday celebration at the Cane Garden Bay Methodist Church. “Oh girl, it was beautiful. People eat, drank, and we had gospel music. Man, people had a fun time.”
Unlike many centenarians, Mr. Industrious is still strong enough to carry out most day-to-day activities, such as making his own lunch and taking care of his house. On Tuesday morning, his caretaker, Ingrid Ottley, was already at the home, which looked like it had just being cleaned.
The grass outside the home had recently been cut by Mr. Industrious’ friend Cefred Hodge, who sat in front of the house. Mr. Hodge was scaling fish and cleaning them with lime under the watchful eye of the centenarian, who planned to eat some of the fish for lunch.
“Man, you did not scrub the fish with the lime?” he asked Mr. Hodge. “Sometimes I cook it, and sometimes I fry it. I could eat fish every day from December to December.” He added, “I am going to cook fish and plantains today. … Since my wife died, I had to cook my own food.”
Mr. Industrious still cooks his own lunch on a regular basis, according to the caretaker. “The only thing he eats is fish. He doesn’t eat any meat or chicken,” Ms. Ottley said. “I can tell you Mr. Kenny is a nice old man. He loves to listen to his music and dance. Nothing bothers him.”
Even though his diet and frequent exercise may have contributed to his good health, the centenarian said he doesn’t know any secrets to longevity. “I cannot tell you the secret to a long life, because only God knows,” Mr. Industrious said, adding that he believes he is one of few people in his neighbourhood to live for a century.
“I feel good. I made it yesterday. Everybody is telling me I am blessed,” Mr. Industrious said as he relaxed on a sofa in his hilltop home. “I feel good. Do you know a man named God? Do you pray and serve him every day? That’s the man who brought me here today.” Mr. Industrious explained that he used to be a fisherman and a farmer. “You see that forest up there? Up yonder?” he asked, pointing up the hill. “I had a big ground there and I used to plant provisions.”
Apart from being a farmer and a fisherman, the centenarian said he used to transport tourists by boat to islands around Tortola. “You see that island there is Jost Van Dyke,” he said, pointing across the water. “I had a boat. Every day I used to go to Jost Van Dyke.”
When he was young, life in the Virgin Islands was hard, according to Mr. Industrious.
“Growing up, you had to work for yourself and build your house. If you want a woman, you marry a woman,” he said, adding that he was married to his wife, Catherine Industrious, for 50 years before she died in 1999. “Oh, dem days when I was growing up, Tortola was hard,” he said. “It was really hard for people back then.”
Most people supported their families by fishing or planting ground provisions, Mr. Industrious explained. He added that he was among many to work in St. Thomas and St. John before finally returning home. “I ain’t really miss them [days],” he said, adding that life in the VI is much easier today.
But the old days weren’t all work and no play.
“When I was young, I had plenty girls,” he said, laughing. “The girls dem used to like me terribly.” He explained that he also had a lot of friends.
Today, his eyesight is still fairly good, and he loves to watch the news, Jerry Springer and channel 10, he said.
Throughout the interview, Mr. Industrious made jokes, even poking fun at the high-heeled shoes this reporter wore. “Dem shoes so high. Lord have mercy, I don’t like to see you people wear those things,” he said.
His exuberant attitude was also evident.
“Come on, baby! Come and take a picture with me,” he told his caretaker.
When she gave him a shirt to put on as he prepared for a photograph, he lamented, “Lord, what is this? You don’t have any shirt better than this?” As he posed, he gave her more instructions: “Come on, put your hands on my shoulders. I am a very handsome man, and I have to look handsome.”
When Mr. Industrious was done posing for photographs, he put on a serious demeanor. Then he picked up his harmonica, an instrument he said he has been playing for the past year.
“Jesus is coming again; he’s coming again and again,” he sang before playing the instrument.
Advice to youths
Asked how this generation differs from his generation, Mr. Industrious said that young people today need to “behave themselves.” He added, “Don’t steal, don’t kill and don’t do drugs. Dem so bad they won’t hear what I say.”
But soon, Mr. Industrious was back to telling jokes again.
“What do you want, tuksy?” he asked this reporter, insisting that she have something to eat.
Soon he got up and went to his kitchen to season his fish. “I season it with salt,” he said as he reached into one of his kitchen cabinets and took out a bottle of Goya seasoning.
“My favorite part is the head,” he added, lifting a fish head from a pan.
After he was done in the kitchen, he left the fish to marinate and sat on his porch, looking at the sea, as he waited for a family member to take him to town. After the trip, he planned to come back home to cook his seasoned fish and eat lunch.