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William “Chi Chi” Fonseca, retired Chief Education Officer and BCVI founding member, dead at 93

FeaturesWilliam “Chi Chi” Fonseca, retired Chief Education Officer and BCVI founding member, dead at 93

BELIZE CITY, Sat. Aug. 5, 2017–Lifelong educator, William “Chi Chi” Fonseca, 93, the father of Freetown area representative, Hon. Francis Fonseca, and his sister, Dr. Carol Fonseca, passed away on Wednesday, August 2. Hon. Francis Fonseca told Amandala this afternoon that his father was not ailing, that “his body just got tired and he passed away.”

A teacher for many years, William Fonseca taught in rural Belize, and at Holy Redeemer and St. Joseph primary schools in Belize City.

“He had a special love for rural Belize and he started schools in the Toledo District,” Hon. Fonseca said. “Then after teaching for some years he went away to study Education, at the University of London. Then he went on to do his Master’s Degree at the University of Ottawa, in Canada,” said Hon. Fonseca.

After Mr. William Fonseca returned from studying, he made a shift from teaching to the administrative side of education. He worked as an education officer for many years, eventually rising to become the Chief Education Officer in the mid 1970’s.

“At that time, he started having very serious problems with his eyes, and he was, unfortunately, forced to retire in 1979,” Hon. Fonseca said. “He retired as the Chief Education Officer and at that point he had become virtually blind. At that point he started focusing on people with visual problems. He thought, ‘if I am facing these circumstances, what about people who have more difficult circumstances than me?’” explained Hon. Fonseca.

Hon. Fonseca said his father teamed up with people “like Philip Goldson and Mr. Miro Castillo” who had a similar interest to assist people with visual impairment. “They came together and actually founded the BCVI,” he said, “So he was one of the founding members. Up to the time, of his death he was honorary president.”

Hon. Fonseca said that during the last chapter of his life, his father worked with many blind persons, including the well-known radio personality, Donovan Reneau, “and people from all over the country.” “He really helped to build BCVI into a national organization. He was also involved in pushing legislation to help people with disabilities, not only blind people, but people with all kinds of disabilities,” said. Hon. Fonseca.

“My dad had a very productive life,” Hon. Fonseca said. “He was married to my mom, Molly Fonseca, who passed away four years ago. They were married for 55 years, at the time of her death,” he noted.

Hon. Fonseca remarked, “He was actually born in Honduras. His father was a Honduran Counsel General to Belize. This was 1923, and there was a civil war in Honduras and his mother brought him to Belize along with his brother. People will remember Raphael ‘Falo’ Fonseca, the Financial Secretary.

“My father was a part of a group of public servants, like Mr. Charlie Hyde—they grew up in the public service together, a special breed of people that we seem to have lost. He always prided himself on being a public officer, working for the country, working for the people of Belize. He also was an author; he published a book a few years ago called, ‘Lessons in Living,’ about his challenges and about his work in education, as well as his work with people with disabilities. He also, more recently, published a book of poems. He loved to write and loved to read. He couldn’t see, but he would put all his works on tapes. He taught himself braille and taught many other people. He would then get his grandson, my son, to transcribe what he put on tape. He lived a long life. He didn’t punish, it was simply a case of his body getting weary. And over the last few weeks, he was just worn down and really died of natural causes.”

“What’s your fondest memory of your dad?” Amandala asked Hon. Fonseca.

“Oh, just a wonderful father who loved to read and encouraged me to read and was always discussing books with me. You know, just his passion for Belize and his passion for education. He instilled that in me and my sister. My dad also loved sports. Even though he couldn’t see, he and I would sit and listen to boxing and NBA basketball games and I would explain to him some of what was happening. You couldn’t ask for a better father, a wonderful dad,” Hon. Fonseca replied.

Funeral services for William “Chi Chi” Fonseca, (September 14, 1923 to August 2, 2017) will be held at Holy Redeemer Cathedral on Tuesday, August 8.

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