Aug. 21, 2005 Aldria Wade thought she had retired when she left her post as director/staff administrator at the Health and Hospitals Corp. in New York, but that wasn't the case.
The V.I. native then came home to St. John to serve as administrator at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center from 1995 to 1998.
"We had three hurricanes in that time. I never experienced so much trauma," she said.
When that job ended, she went on to write policies and procedures as a nursing consultant. She traveled back and forth to New York as well as telecommuted, but Wade said her husband of 41 years, Montserrat native William Wade Sr., wanted her to be around more, so she gave it up.
She relaxed for a while, but soon Delegate Donna M. Christensen called her to serve as her St. John staff person. Wade is still on that job, working three days a week in the St. John office located at the Legislature building.
"I'm enjoying this one. It's different," she said.
When she's not on the job, Wade serves as a Sunday school teacher at Emmaus Moravian Church, where she also is a member of the board of stewards. She is also on the John's Folly Learning Institute board and the Myrah Keating Smith advisory board.
Wade said she's seen huge changes on St. John since she returned home 10 years ago.
"There are an enormous amount of houses going up," she said, noting that she can see a lot of them from her home on the Coral Bay side of Bordeaux.
She said she hopes that the next governor will do something to ensure that V.I. natives can still afford to buy land.
"It's very disturbing. Eventually it will all be people other than natives," she said.
Wade was born 62 years ago on St. Thomas to Lawrence and Charlotte Harley of St. John. When her parents moved to New York, she moved in with her East End grandparents, Roselin and Joseph Harley.
She describes it as an idyllic childhood with the few families living on the East End enjoying each other's company. She walked to school and went by boat to Coral Bay for church.
"We played softball. It was nice clean fun," she recalled.
She was also the only child in that household and got a lot of attention.
When she was 13, her grandfather took sick, so the family moved to St. Thomas.
At age 15, she went off to New York to live with her parents and complete her education.
Wade said in those days, students in the Virgin Islands got a good education. So good, in fact, that Wade skipped a grade when she arrived in New York.
After high school, she went on to get a bachelor's degree from Pace University and a master's degree in nursing from Lehman College.
She was working as a nurse when her husband danced into her life. The two met when Wade's friends convinced her to go out to one of New York's hotspots, Huntspoint.
"I used to work hard and party hard," she said.
She said she initially turned a deaf ear to Wade's persistent phone calls, but finally fell for him. Two children followed. Son William Wade Jr. lives on St. Thomas, and daughter Yvette is in New York. The Wades have three grandchildren.
Indeed, her daughter and grandchildren are the lure that makes Wade long to return at least part-time to New York.
"I look forward to spending more time in New York," she said.
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