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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


March 3, 2002 – Gertrude Alethea Lockhart Melchior, also known as "Miss Gertrude," "Miss Dudley," and "Mrs. Melchior" was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1921, the third of four children born to Herbert E. Lockhart and Karen Ingeborg Lockhart (née Pedersen). She was christened at the Cathedral Church of All Saints, then the "Anglican Church on Garden Street," and there began a lifetime of devoted service to her God and her church. Her early education was at the nursery school commonly referred to as the "Nun's School" where she was taught by the nuns and deaconesses who ran the school. Mrs. Melchior attended local public schools, graduating from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1940.
Upon graduation from high school she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics in 1944. While at Howard, she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and remained a faithful and active alumna of her sorority and the St. Thomas chapter of AKA her entire life. Upon her return from college she accepted a position at the Charlotte Amalie High School and taught home economics to students in grades seven through twelve.
In 1948 she married prominent attorney George H.T. Dudley (now deceased) with whom she had two children: George H.T. Dudley, Jr., an attorney, and G. Rita Dudley Grant, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist.
From 1952 to 1957 Mrs. Melchior served as the first principal of All Saints Anglican School. She recalled with pride hiring a young lady by the name of Louise Smith to be the school's first grade teacher. That young lady, now, Louise Brady, became Mrs. Melchior's protégée and is today the principal of All Saints Cathedral School.
In 1957 Mrs. Melchior left education and school administration to enter the Lockhart family business. She was elected Vice President of A.H. Lockhart & Co., the parent company founded on the business enterprises of her grandfather, Alfred Harris Lockhart, and became manager of Lockhart's Grand Gift Shop located in the Grand Hotel. When the Grand Gift Shop closed in 1968, she continued to be involved with the family's business as vice president of A.H. Lockhart & Co. and H.E. Lockhart Development Corporation and their successor entities until 1987. She served as a distinguished member of the Board of Directors of Lockhart Companies Inc. until she retired in 1996. At the time of her death, Mrs. Melchior was the single largest shareholder in Lockhart Companies Inc., a diversified holding company with interests in real estate, insurance and financial services.
On July 23, 1975, Mrs. Melchior married Ariel A. Melchior, Sr., who founded The Daily News and remained its publisher until it was sold to Gannett Corporation in 1978. The Melchiors' enduring relationship served as a model of marital devotion to the younger members of the family.
A woman of many and varied interests, Mrs. Melchior traveled extensively and excelled in painting, ceramics, and, her personal favorite, the culinary arts. Over the years, she enjoyed a celebrated reputation for making elaborate wedding cakes. Several chefs and bakers — both local and stateside – spent time in Mrs. Melchior's kitchen in Estate Thomas learning some of the finer points of their trade.
Although a busy career woman, Mrs. Melchior always made time for her family. She took a direct personal interest in the education of her two children, teaching them the value of trying their best at any undertaking. When her sister, Karen Lockhart Peterson, died at an early age, Mrs. Melchior had a hand in the rearing of her sister's three children. Even though her mother, "Miss Inga," was blinded by glaucoma for much of her adult life, Mrs. Melchior made sure that Miss Inga was able to attend church every Sunday and visit the gravesite of Mrs. Melchior's father.
Mrs. Melchior's brother, Herbert E. Lockhart, Jr. — affectionately called Junior throughout his life – served as president of The Lockhart Companies from 1949 until shortly before his death in 1991. Both a close friend and advisor to her brother, Mrs. Melchior was a moving force behind the decision of The Lockhart Companies to convey to the Government of the Virgin Islands the land on which the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital is constructed. She also was an integral part of the decision by the Lockhart Family to gift to the Episcopal Diocese the land on which St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and Parish Hall are located in Estate Thomas.
In more recent years, the primary focus of Mrs. Melchior's family life were her grandchildren, twins Beryl and B.J. Dudley and Megan Grant. Having successfully raised her own children, she felt a special obligation to see that her grandchildren were grounded in the same values that guided her life.
Above all, the hallmark of this remarkable woman's life was her unwavering commitment to community service. Anywhere that she could help to make the Virgin Islands a better place to live, she was there. In any way that she could make a positive difference in the lives of the residents of the community, she offered assistance. Any time a community organization requested her assistance, be it the use of her home, a dish for a food sale, a gift from her store for a fund-raiser, or simply additional woman-power, her answer was invariably positive.
The list of her service to the Virgin Islands community is long and spans her entire lifetime. As a child she was a member of the Junior Altar Guild of All Saints Church. For years on Saturdays she spent a good part of the afternoon at All Saints polishing the brass for church services the next day. As a member of the Guild she sewed vestments, altar cloths and other items for the church. She also helped make baby gowns, diapers, bibs and towels for the municipal hospital.
As a young adult she worked with Ron DeLugo to re-establish St. Thomas Carnival. She served for many years on the St. Thomas Carnival Committee and later as a judge of numerous Carnival Queen competitions and other talent shows. She was a founding member of the Gypsy Carnival Troupe, the only organization that has continuously participated in Carnival since its revival in 1952. Regarded as the First Lady of Carnival, the "Mistress of Mas," one of the highlights of each year's carnival parade was the appearance of Mrs. Melchior on the Gypsy Troupe float lighting up the parade with a fabulous costume and her spectacular smile.
For many years, Mrs. Melchior brought her leadership skills to the Community Chest and served as one of the key organizers of its principal fund-raising event, the annual Community Chest Telethon. When the Community Chest became today's United Way of St. Thomas-St. John, Mrs. Melchior was one of the United Way's first officers and served for several years on its Board of Directors.
Mrs. Melchior was a member of and a leader in the Business and Professional Women's Association, the League of Women Voters, Rotary Inner Wheel, the Gift and Fashion Shop Association, Virgin Islands Girl Scouts Council, Partners for Health, and others. She served as a volunteer cooking for the USO and teaching ceramics to senior citizens at the Rotary Senior Citizens Center. For many years she was a member of the Board of Directors of Bluebeard's Housing Corporation and of the Magens Bay Authority. Mrs. Melchior also served several terms as an elected member of the Virgin Islands Board of Elections.
For her community service Mrs. Melchior twice was honored by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands and had a public street named after her.
A victim of Alzheimer's Disease in the final years of her life, even as she was gradually robbed her of cognitive ability, it did not destroy her indomitably warm and engaging personality. Despite her failing health, Mrs. Melchior would have been the first to tell you that she had a blessed and wonderful life.
Mrs. Melchior, died February 27, 2002, at
the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital. She is survived by her husband, Ariel A. Melchior, Sr.; two children, George H.T. Dudley and G. Rita Dudley Grant; seven step-children, Ariel Melchior Jr., Earl Melchior, Valerie Wade, Marjorie Preston, Rita Watley, Norma Gomez and Laurel Melchior; three grandchildren, Beryl B. Dudley, Benjamin J. Dudley and Megan A. Grant; three step-grandchildren, R. Damien Grant, Stacy M. Grant and Jeremy Grant; sisters-in-law, Corinne S. Lockhart and Marjorie S. Petersen; daughter-in-law, Susan Laura Lugo; son-in-law, Richard E.W. Grant; nieces, Kathleen P. Goldberg, Karen H. Williams, Catherine L. Mills and Beryl P. Haygood; nephews, Kaj H. Petersen, Dale St. C. Garee, William H. Hastie, Jr., Herbert E. Lockhart, III, Ronald S. Lockhart and Henrik A. Lockhart; the families of Alfred H. Lockhart, Jr., Violet Kirketerp, Blanche Barbel and Osee Nicholson; the members of the Gypsy Troupe, and many other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Estate Thomas on Saturday, March 9, 2002 at 9:30 a.m. The viewing will be at John Thomas Memorial Chapel on Friday evening, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Out of respect for her religious devotion and in observance of Lent, Mrs. Melchior's family requests that, in lieu of flowers, a contribution be made in her memory to the Karen Ingeborg Lockhart Foundation, or to the United Way of St. Thomas-St. John, addressed to P.O. Box 717, St. Thomas, VI 00804.

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