Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obit John Rojas - 1923-2013

Don Rojas
Frank Rojas, noted Caribbean broadcaster, journalist and cultural pioneer, died from pneumonia in Randallstown, MD on Friday, January 18, 2013. He was 90 years-old.

He leaves to mourn a son, Don Rojas and daughter-in-law Karen, two daughters, Erica Biscombe Burnett and Colleen Ballard and their husbands, sister Jocelyn Masson, six grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and a host of family and friends in the Caribbean, the USA, Canada and Australia.

He was born in St.Vincent & the Grenadines of Trinidadian parents and spent his youth in both countries. He served in a British army unit based in Trinidad & Tobago during World War 2 and in 1949 married his late wife Marie Gillezeau of St. Vincent.

He served for many years as a civil servant in St. Vincent, Grenada and St. Lucia. He was trained in radio broadcasting by the BBC and also worked as a Caribbean correspondent for the Reuters News Service in the 1960s.

Frank achieved a distinguished career as a radio producer and general manager of radio stations in various Caribbean countries. He authored and produced a number of audio documentaries and radio dramas, most notably, the award-winning series “Akita, the Slave”, which traced the life of a young African boy who survived the Middle Passage, grew up on a sugar plantation in the Caribbean and who, as an adult, led a slave rebellion that was ultimately defeated by the British colonial forces.

Frank trained and mentored several young broadcasters throughout the Caribbean who went on to build successful careers.

He contributed immeasurably to the expansion of the Carnival arts and the development of steel pan music in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and also chronicled the oral histories of Grenada, St.Vincent and St. Lucia from dozens of radio interviews with people of the older generations in those Caribbean countries.

Frank and his wife Marie migrated to New York in 1968 and later became naturalized US citizens. In the 1970s and 1980s Frank worked in the US labor movement as an executive with Locals 144 and 1199 of the SEIU.

Along with his son Don in1973, he launched the first Caribbean-American daily newspaper (“Caribbean Daily”) and, co-founded one of the first Internet-based newspapers, “The Black World Today” in July, 1996.

Shortly after his wife’s death in December 2005, he moved back to the Caribbean and lived in Dominica with his daughter Erica for over six years. He returned to the US in the middle of December 2012 to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with Don and his family in Maryland.

A memorial service will be held for Frank Rojas on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 11am in the New All Saints RC Church, Baltimore, MD.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai