Scholar dies on his returnCelestine Gittens looking at pictures from one of her son’s graduation ceremonies. Inset is Gittens. (Basil Griffith)
By Trevor Yearwood | Sun, December 19, 2010 - 12:06 AM
Barbados has just lost a prominent United States-based educator – Dr Winston Tyrone Gittens.
The associate professor of education at Minnesota State University, died at the Grantley Adams International Airport after returning home late Friday night to celebrate Christmas with his family.
Grieving mother Celestine Gittens, of Baird’s Village, St Joseph, told the SUNDAY SUN: “His passing really hit me for six. Even now, my body is feeling kind of jittery. But to God be the glory. I am trying to be strong.”
Her son had been living in the United States for about 15 years.
“He came home every Christmas,” his mother reported.
“We were waiting for him to call when the plane landed and tell us to pick him up as usual. But 12 o’clock came and we didn’t hear from him and one o’clock came and still he didn’t call, so we started to get worried.”
At 1:15 a.m. yesterday, the Gittens family received the dreaded call from the airport which sent Celestine and relatives rushing there.
“They told us that when Winston got to the Customs area, he complained that his stomach was feeling a bit tight,” she reported. “He said he wanted to sit down. But when he sat down, he just collapsed. The doctor said he had a heart attack.”
Gittens, a former hurdler and member of the Freedom Striders Athletics Club, won an athletics scholarship that took him to Puerto Rico to study for his first degree.
He went on to complete his Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in the United States.
The former St George Secondary School student taught at Coleridge & Parry School, the Barbados Community College, The St Michael School and University of the West Indies.
“Whenever Winston came home, he would look up all his friends and relatives,” his mother recalled.
“He really enjoyed a Bajan Christmas.
But he always had an eye on his diet. After he had enough of the ham, it was fish for him.
“I prepared fish and vegetables for him but he didn’t even get a chance to eat them.”
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