- About Us
- About Us
Silence filled the settlement of Smith's Bay, Cat Island until a cry pierced the air signaling the birth of a beautiful baby girl born to the late Emmanuel and the late Diana Simmons on December 7th. She would be the second born of eight children. Though born in a quaint settlement in ordinary circumstances, this babe christened Edna Merlene would be extraordinary!
Edna Merlene was described as an academic phenomenon. She began her early education at Knowles Public School in Cat Island. Her aspiration to attain academic greatness propelled her to attend A.F. Adderley and C.H. Reeves evening institutes where she earned her B.J.C.s and G.C.E.s. Acquiring knowledge became her passion so she enrolled in the Bahamas Teachers College where she earned her Teacher's Certificate. Later, she travelled to St Joseph, Minnesota to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree at St. Benedict College.
Edna Merlene was an amazing and selfless pedagogue! Her students excelled! She could always be found in her classroom offering students additional assistance. Her classroom was always well decorated and student-centered. Her Choral Speaking groups was always impressed at the National Arts Festival. The future teachers assigned to her for teaching practice flourished under her tutelage always earning A's. The teachers at the schools she taught at - Naomi Blatch, Ridgeland Primary, Carmichael Primary (Sybil Strachan Primary), Cleveland Eneas and Carlton E. Francis - knew and took advantage of her open door policy. Edna Merlene offered teaching strategies, a listening ear, and sound advice. She served as Team Leader, Art Coordinator, and Teacher of the Year. Edna Merlene was promoted to Senior Teacher highlighting her mastery in the classroom.
In 2000, Edna Merlene was honored by the Primary Principal's Association for long, dedicated, and exemplary service. After 30 years of extraordinary service, Edna Merlene retired from the teaching profession. She personified excellence! She laid down her educational tools and leapt into the vineyard of the Lord.
Her love for education was surpassed only by her love for God! Edna Merlene accepted God at an early age. She lived by Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." God began adding to Edna Merlene's life and He began with love.
On the 3rd of December, 1963, Edna Merlene married the love of her life, Bishop Neville Hart and 54 years later, she still whispered words of love and endearment to him. This extraordinary union produced seven children: Rusty, Hernandez, Bradford, Rujean, Ingrid Amelia (Knoxville, TN), Griselda, and Nevillene. Her husband and children called her BLESSED!
Edna Merlene subscribed to the philosophy that only what is done for Christ will last. Thus her service for Christ was a labor of love. This extraordinary servant of the Most High God served in every ministry of the church. Edna Merlene performed with distinction as Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Family Training Hour Teacher, Family Hour Directress, Bible Study Directress, Choir Directress, Visitation Committee Coordinator, Fundraising Committee Chairperson, Local Women's Ministry President, National Women's President (Church of God), Finance Committee Chairperson, Church Administrator, and PASTOR. She was instrumental in decorating the Sally Lowe Center which housed delegates from the Family Islands during the National Convention to ensure they felt welcome in their home away from home. She made history when she organized the first National Women's Retreat in Freeport, Grand Bahama while serving as National Women's President. Her mantra was "only what is done for Christ will last."
Despite the vast amount of roles she performed, this extraordinary woman did not neglect her duties as wife and mother. She was an extraordinary chef, cooking up culinary delights daily. Edna Merlene did not only cook dinner, she cooked breakfast and made lunch. Edna Merlene's middle name should have been "Generosity." She did not only feed her immediate and extended family but everyone who came to visit. At S.C. McPherson School, the students waited eagerly for Banana Pancake mornings, one pancake could share between five students. She was a connoisseur in the kitchen and everyone anticipated her home-made bread, turnover bread, potato bread, and fruit cake as well. Her ability to wash and iron was envied. She took pride in what she did! She was indeed extraordinary!
Edna Merlene was a seamstress and designer. She fashioned cloth into skirts, blouses, dresses, shirts, pants, aprons, and suits. She sewed all of her daughters' school uniforms and extended this service to her family and friends. Knowing that shorts were not the desired Physical Education wear for her daughters, she designed P.E. skirts to meet their needs and sent them to class in style even though the skirts were below the knee.
Edna Merlene was an entrepreneur! She made straw come to life as dolls, planes, horse and carriage, Christmas ornaments, tablemats, hats, totes, coin purses, clutches, key rings, offering pans, pencil holders, and portfolios. Her clients locally and internationally commended her on the quality of her workmanship. No one can comprehend how she did so much and still had time to visit the sick and shut-in, praying for them and feeding them through her Caring Heart and Prayer Ministry. She could often be heard saying, "Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can." She did! Edna Merlene was extraordinary.
Edna Merlene was skillful! Her memory was the sharpest! She often recited poems learned during her childhood years, bringing laughter and merriment to every occasion. She was a walking calculator. Edna Merlene could calculate figures within seconds. She could write a poem in minutes. If you needed her, she would begin working on your behalf in less than a minute. She renown for her penmanship, reading ability, and storytelling skills. Even after she retired, she was invited back to Carlton E. Francis, Prince Williams, S.C. McPherson, and other organizations to share her original stories. Edna Merlene loved WORDS! She was our family's SCRABBLE Queen! She was always ready to win. Edna Merlene was extraordinary.
On Monday, 9th of April, 2018, Edna Merlene Simmons-Hart heard the midnight cry! As she began packing, she could say with assurance, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Edna Merlene looked around one more time, took her final breath, and whispered READY! Left to mourn her passing are her husband Bishop Neville E. Hart. Seven children: Rusticus, Hernandez, Bradford, Rujean, Dr. Ingrid, Griselda, and Nevillene. One daughter-in-law, Florence Hart. Grandchildren: Rusty, Rico, Rashonda, Deshawn, Cie-Jay, Jay-Cie, and Shaquille. Great grandchildren: Rhianna and A'va Hart. Sisters: Coralee Maycock (Freeport), Ellamae, Earlean (Fort Lauderdale, FL.), and Carnetta Simmons (Tampa, FL.). Brother: Elkin Sutherland. Grandaunt: Thelma Symonette. Sisters-in-law: Annuella Simmons, Virginia Stubbs, and Esther Roker. Brothers-in-law: Jeffrey Stubbs and Victor Hart (Vero Beach, FL.). Uncles: Charles and Frank Hart. Aunt: Corene Hart. Numerous other relatives and friends.
Memorial Service will be held on Thursday April 26th at 7:30 pm at the Coconut Grove Temple Church of God located Coconut Grove & K. D. Jose Way [Purple & White Sanctuary].
Funeral Service will be held on Saturday April 28th at the Evangelistic Pentecostal Church located at the end of the Prescription Parlour corner, off East Street South (Gardens Hills #1). Viewing starts at 10:00am and the Service begins at 11:00am.