FACE TO FACE: Vylma, an educator and a leader




EXEMPLIFYING professionalism and grace, Mrs. Vylma Thompson-Curling has made a national impact as an educator, Permanent Secretary, and community trailblazer.


VYLMA’s father, Joseph H Major.


VYLMA Thompson-Curling celebrates her 90th birthday with loved ones.


FOUR generations: Vylma Thompson-Curling, (standing, centre) with her mother Minerva A Major (nee Francis) (right) and her daughter Elizabeth E Thompson to her left. Seated in front is her grandmother, Clementina Francis (nee Dean).


VYLMA Thompson-Curling is an absolutely beautiful, quick-witted, and joyous woman with nine decades of wisdom to share. She has helped to shape her nation into a better place as an educator, administrator, and community leader.

As a mother, Vylma is adored, and her love extends from her natural-born children to the many that are under her wing.

The people whose lives she has touched remark on her boundless energy, put into a decades-long, stellar career in the Public Service; her strong faith; dedication to community service; and unselfish love as a wife and mother.

In January of this year, a vibrant Vylma celebrated her 90th birthday with family and friends.

It was an opportune time for some of her mentees to sing her praises, recalling the tremendous impact she had in shaping their careers.

As an advocate for women in leadership, Mrs Thompson-Curling mentored a number of women - leaders in public service - all making a major impact in their respective areas today.

By exemplifying professionalism, integrity, and grace, Mrs. Thompson-Curling set an example that other women are still following as the standard of excellence.

“I entered the Public Service in 1988 at the then Ministry of Housing and National Insurance,” said veteran Permanent Secretary Phedra Rahming, currently at the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting.

“Mrs Vylma Thompson (now Curling) was the Permanent Secretary. I recall her being a very stern and decisive leader. She made her decisions and stood by them. Though stern, she was also compassionate, empathazing with staff who presented with personal challenges. There were other officers who, after completing university, joined the team at the Ministry of Housing to serve under Mrs Thompson-Curling. They include Secretary to the Cabinet, Mrs Nicole Campbell, Permanent Secretaries Antoinette Thompson and Janice Miller, Isla Garraway-Deane (retired Under Secretary) and Betty Miller-Kerr (Deputy Permanent Secretary); and Lorraine Symonette-Armbrister (now Permanent Secretary) who later transferred into the Ministry and joined the team.”

The Ministry of Finance’s PS Janice Miller recalls her days with Mrs Thompson-Curling, saying her mentor would affectionately refer to her high flyers as “her little ladies”.

“She was a consumate leader, one who was dignified and always a professional,” Miller said.

“I admired her leadership skills, institutional knowledge, and commitment to excellence,” said Transport PS Donella Bodie.

“My favorite quality in PS Thompson is her dedication to succession planning. She encouraged the young women who entered the public service to excel and commended each one when they succeeded. I will always appreciate her contribution to my career development in the Public Sector.”

Mrs Thompson-Curling taught in the public school system for twenty-five years. She rose to the rank of vice principal and then became an administrstor, working in planning, to make a positive impact on the nation’s public schools. She was promoted to Permanent Secretary in 1980, and thus began the second leg of her career in the Public Service.

Her transformative career as a Permanent Secretary (PS) is lauded. In transport, she was instrumental in the implementation of several progressive measures, including ship registration, and the acceleration cruise ship activity in Nassau Harbour. She served as PS for the Ministry of Housing and National Insurance, working towards the successful construction of houses for low-income citizens in the Elizabeth Estates and Flamingo Gardens communities.

Mrs Thompson-Curling’s impact in community development is just as wide. To name a few:

• Charter Vice President of the Zonta Club of Nassau. Founding member of both the AIDS Foundation and the PACE Foundation.

• The first president of the UWI Alumni

• The first president of Queen’s College PTA

• Secretary to the Historical Society

• Served for 10 years on the St Andrew’s board

• Served on the National Council for Older Persons

Her favourite quote about life explains a lot about her ability to seemingly do it all: “God has been my strength, my rock, my deliverer and my strong hold. I depend on Him.”

She enjoys worshipping God with her family at Believer’s Gospel Chapel, where she serves as a choir member and Sunday School counsellor.

Family has always been important to her, especially because of the love poured into her as a child. She is the fourth child and only daughter of veteran educators Joseph Hunt and Minerva Major. She is a proud descendant of the Johnsons and Majors of Harbour Island and the Dean and Francis families in the Berry Islands.

Mrs Thompson-Curling’s faith has brought her through the toughest of times, including the death of her husband, Cecil Curling and her son, Theophilus Ian Thompson.

Her children are an endless source of pride and joy: talk show host and consultant Fayne A Thompson; Curzon WF Thompson, an engineer; and Elizabeth E Thompson, and attorney, author and victims advocate actively working in the fight against domestic violence. They are the children with her first husband, Eugene A Thompson. She is also abundantly thankful for her 15 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

For her 90th birthday, her daughter Elizabeth penned:

“In the golden light of ninety years,

A mother’s love still shines, sincere.

Hearts beat with gratitude’s chime,

For the warmth of her embrace, so divine.

Through life’s seasons, she’s been the guide,

With wisdom’s touch, she’s stood by their side.

Her laughter echoes through memories bright,

In her embrace, they find solace, and light.

Though time may paint her hair with gray,

Her love remains a constant ray.

In every wrinkle, a story’s told,

Of love, resilience, and hearts of gold.

So here’s to the matriarch, strong and true,

Whose love has nurtured, like the morning dew.

At ninety years old, she’s a treasure to adore,

A beacon of love, forevermore.”


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