Peter Alphonsus de Roché was the second of three sons to Henry and Ena de Roché. He was born in Canouan, which is one of the Grenadine islands belonging to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. When he was just a baby he was sent to live with some relatives in Trinidad and Tobago. He returned to Canouan at the age of 9 and was surprised to learn that the doting “uncle “ who visited him from time to time, was his natural father. He then went to live with his newfound parents and brothers.
Peter was a very smart boy and went to the only school on the tiny island. He feared his teacher, for whenever he made a mistake he would be “strapped”, while his classmates were allowed to make up to 3 mistakes before they got the belt! Later in life, Peter realized that his teacher really liked him, and wanted him to succeed.
He was the only student who received a scholarship that year to go to the mainland boarding school to further his education. Unfortunately, the school closed just after his first year there. Peter was then given another scholarship to attend the Boys Grammar School in Kingstown. Sadly, Peter got sick at the beginning of the school year and the coveted scholarship was awarded to another student. He was sent back to Canouan where he became a teacher’s assistant at the tender age of 13. His compensation for teaching was that he was the only child allowed to attend secondary education classes tuition-free. With this blessing, he was able to pass the Senior School Certificate for the University of Cambridge, England. This was the equivalent of graduating from High School here in the U.S.A.
His first profession was that of a teacher. He tried hard not to make the children fear him, and was determined to be different from his teachers by using another approach to show the students that he cared while encouraging them to do their best. One year, his class received 5 of the 10 scholarships that were awarded to the entire island! These prestigious scholarships were to attend secondary school and in those days, secondary education was not free and many students simply could not afford to attend and had to forgo their education.
Peter was an avid swimmer and had no fear of the Caribbean Sea. He swam long distances and won many races. Sometimes he and his friends would have races between the islands and he learned to defend himself against sharks in the open waters!
Later on, Peter’s second profession was that of a draftsman while working as a civil servant, creating technical drawings for many of the buildings in St. Vincent. From there, he got a scholarship to go to Canada where he studied Civil Technology at the University of Brunswick. After completing his studies, he returned to St. Vincent and was promoted to the head of that department.
Peter migrated to Canada in the 1970s where he worked as a Civil Technologist. Embracing his love of photography, he started his own business as a professional photographer. He did mostly school pictures, along with weddings and graduations.
Peter was a giver. He gave his time to many organizations. He was a member of the Knights of Colombus and did a lot of volunteer work with them and the Catholic Church. Many years later he volunteered with St. Lucie Schools as a “Grandparent” where he helped students with math lessons. One failing student was assigned to Peter. When citywide test day came, the teacher noticed that this young boy had finished his test early, and expected that he had failed again, but was pleasantly surprised to not only see that the boy had passed, but that he had done well, with the help of Peter’s patience and tutelage. Peter also worked hard at his home church, Nativity, where he often folded bulletins, helped to maintain the church grounds, and lent a helping hand as needed. He also served on the Social and Outreach Committees.
Peter loved gardening, but not the pretty floral kind of gardening. He liked the kind of gardening that yielded yummy things to eat. He enjoyed growing fruit trees and sent scores of fruit-bearing plants to the church over the years to support fundraising efforts.
Peter was kind and compassionate. He had a soft spot in his heart for animals. He adored cats and would tolerate some dogs that were as small as cats. He enjoyed birds and even put up a bird feeder in the back yard to welcome them. He often stopped in the middle of a quiet road to chat with the local Sandhill Cranes, though I don’t think they ever chatted back! These were the same Cranes who often visited his home looking for food, sometimes several times a day.
Peter liked peace and would often walk away from an argument. Perhaps we can all manage our blood pressure a bit better by taking a page from his book.
If you ever saw Peter in church, you likely know that he had extremely sensitive ears and often wore earmuffs to protect himself. He could clearly hear what others were quietly saying rooms away! Loud noises were very uncomfortable for him, and he’d often watch TV with the volume so low, that you’d wonder if he could actually hear it! He never left home without his protective earmuffs, especially if he were going someplace like a restaurant or a place where music would be playing. Many of us can jokingly remember the long car rides in silence because the radio or loud and boisterous conversations were forbidden when he was behind the wheel.
Peter was a man of few words, unless you got him started on a subject near and dear to his heart, like concrete (the subject of his University thesis), or mathematics, or stories from his youth, then you’d have trouble getting him to stop.
Peter died peacefully on Sunday Night, September 3, 2023. Peter is survived by his wife Hyacinth and step-daughter Rosamund; his three children and their families: Sylvia, her husband Robert and their daughters Keegan and Kiyanna; Micheal, his wife Dinah, and their children Dominic and Danica; and Lisa, and her husband Gino and their daughter Mariella. He is survived by many other relatives and friends.
Peter will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Peter's memory to the Church of the Nativity by going to https://nativitypsl.com/ and clicking the "Give" link.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Church of The Nativity 1151 SW Del Rio Blvd Port St. Lucie, FL 34953 on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 1PM.