REMEMBERING: Carmen Aleen Gray, RPh., BH(L)
President Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica 1979-1982
Carmen Aleen Gray served with distinction and contributed significantly to the development of Pharmacy nationally, regionally and internationally. She was usually referred to by her middle name, “Aleen”: in fact, many persons were not aware that her Christian name was “Carmen”.
She was a member of the three (3) organizations that govern the practice of Pharmacy: Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ), Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP) and the Commonwealth Pharmacy Association (CPA).
“Miss Gray was a very humble lady, she walked with persons of high status, but never lost the common touch. She was a Christian, who demonstrated this by her life and example.” (Yvonne Reid)
Miss Gray had the distinction of been the first female to attain the position of President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica 1979-1982, and the 10th President to lead this noble profession. The story is that when it was time for election of the President in 1979 none of the strong male leaders of the society at the time wanted to take on the position and Miss Gray took up the banner.
It was during her tenure the PSJ celebrated its Golden Jubilee and many of us have been regaled with stories of that week of activities and the Jubilee Banquet which took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel to which the Governor General Sir FLorizel Glasspole was in attendance. She was just so proud of that event.
Miss Gray was trained at the Kingston Public Hospital under the apprenticeship system and attained her license to work has a Pharmacist in April 1962. It would seem she was an active member of the Association even in those early days. Mr Stafford Haughton recalls that as a Pharmacy Student enrolled in the then pioneer Pharmacy Diploma Programme at CAST January 1962, how all the students were embraced and encouraged by the proactive executive led by the President Vin Bennett and his loyal, hardworking and super-efficient Secretary, Aleen Gray. “The leadership of the PSJ were mentors to the group and C. Aleen Gray was at the forefront of this outreach. We attended PSJ meetings at the St Luke’s Church Hall and some of us went on the become members after graduating in 1965. Aleen was still working diligently as the secretary”
Miss Gray worked mainly in the pharmaceutical retail trade, T. Geddes Grant, Amalgamated Distributors and at one time had her own Pharmacy (Shortwood Pharmacy in Barbican). Stafford Haughton again recalls the courteous service she always offered as the pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Manager at T. Geddes Grant. Oftentimes she would personally go to the warehouse to ensure the accuracy of the order as it was being processed. She worked at Oakland Pharmacy up to a few months before her passing.
Aleen Gray was the historian of the Society and many of us recall her input into the memorial lectures which were part of the Sunday morning sessions of Retreat for many years. Her article on the History of Pharmacy in Jamaica serves as a reference source for many and is a foundation document of the PSJ website. She saw the PSJ as having a great history, a proud record of achievements, with distinct opportunities for future accomplishments.
The Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP) was launched in Jamaica in 1976. Miss Gray was one of the foundation members of this organization. Her last attendance at a CAP convention was in St Lucia, August 2010. She attended the CAP leadership Summit in Montego Bay, Jamaica December 2012 and on that occasion was recognized as a Foundation Member. In April 2014 she was an observer at the mid-year meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. The Executive and members of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists salute Miss C. Aleen Gray and regret her passing before the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the organization in 2016. Miss Gray was looking forward to participating in the activities, scheduled to take place in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In recognition of her achievements and contribution, Miss Gray was awarded the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service for over 50 years of service to Pharmacy in 2014.
Hermine Metcalfe summed it up when she said “Aleen Gray was a gentle soul. I can still see the dimpled smile and the twinkle in her eyes as she spoke of the evolution of Pharmacy in Jamaica and the pride she felt having played a role along the development path. To have known her was to respect her because she respected all those she knew. We are saddened by her death and today, we say goodbye to a lady of impeccable integrity.”
In the words of Yvonne Reid, President CAP “in memory of Miss Gray, we should continue to lift the profession and so build on the rich, proud history that the pioneers have left us”
We give thanks for her life and contribution and extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends.