By Virgil Sams
With over eight decades of life, who for the most part lived a highly devoted industrious life, one should not go quietly into the sunset without public acknowledgment of their prolific productive life and contributions.
The life of this productive compatriot of St. Eustatius is best described in the words of the famous quote from the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
There are many more Statians whose successful and productive careers are worth highlighting and are worthy examples for present and future generations to follow. Many remained regrettably untapped. The rise of successful productive men and women of Statia are worth our time of study. Our leaders should examine and apply much of their insights, ideas and projections that could aid in giving deeper insights for the development of nations, including our island. Some are fortunately still alive to tell their story, such as the one of whom this article is written.
Mr. Alvin Courtar has devoted his entire life to the development of Statia from family man, cultivator, fisherman, builder, job creator, contractor to aviator which became the peak of his successful career. In addition to the aforementioned attributes, he is one of Statia’s most esteemed philanthropist who has contributed altruistically to organizations. He has helped numerous families in need and employees whose earnings were below socio-economic level. His self-sacrificing giving has touched many lives in significant and exemplary ways.
Mr. Courtar fathered 11 children from his wife and 1 stepson and others. He was married for 45 years to his wife Edith, who died on August 2004. He built his first house at the age of 17. He did not acquire the education that is generally required for the successful career that he obtained. But had good sense and sound judgement in practical matters.
During his early childhood he told his parents that he would one day fly a plane. They thought he was dreaming. Little did they know, that dream would one day become a reality.
He pursued a course in aviation and successfully earned a private pilot license at the age of 47. The words of C. S. Lewis “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” must have infused his desire to fulfill this dream. He never limits himself because of others.
He was the second of the locals to have earned a pilot license. Henky Rivers being the first to have earned private and commercial pilot licenses. Subsequently others followed the ranks of piloting, making Statia proud of their daring adventurous careers.
Mr. Courtar owned a private one engine aircraft. He made numerous chartered flights to the neighboring islands and flew as far as Haiti. His flying career became quite demanding and was driven to purchase an Aztec twin engine aircraft. During this time, he extended his flights to as far as Trinidad. He has flown to many neighboring islands and distant countries doing charters and favors for many. He made some daring adventures in going places in weather conditions where other pilots would not dare to venture.
Besides his piloting career he was a contractor of no mean caliber. He listened to the talks of many who saw potential in Statia. Many shared ideas for future developments. Mr. Courtar not only listened to the ideas and potential developments but he acted on them. There were times when folks became quite concerned with some of his uncommon actions. For example, he bought some heavy equipment when nothing was happening on Statia.
He was very persistent in what he did. Once he sets focus on something, he makes it a reality. But in all his outstanding achievements he gave the credit to his wife who was his back bone of his success.
What remains admirable about Mr. Courtar, though he has attained a successful career he maintained a humble disposition. He is noted for having the providential gift of giving. During his sustained period as an employer, he took good care of his employees.
His life is characterized as industrious, hard-working, active, diligent in his pursuits. He was never seen in a bar or on street corners hanging out with friends, though he has many friends both local and abroad whom he procured throughout his laborious years and from the many countries he traveled. His days were fully occupied with work. After a full day of construction, he would find time for cultivation on the mountainside. He never engaged himself in politics, but had a keen observing eye on the affairs of the island. He remained focus and determined in competing the multi assigned projects for governments, organizations and for private citizens.
He was blessed with fortunes that he acquired over the years. This was gained from his honest labour. He was reliable in his labour, magnanimous in his goodwill toward humanity and unpretentious in his benevolence. A large number of the inhabitants of Statia can bear evidence of being benefactors from his benevolent heart. His willingness to help where help is needed is granted without reservation and he would expect nothing in return. He would criticize his friends constructively but at the same moment, in the twinkling of an eye privately or publicly would help them out with no strings attached. He has given substantial financial contribution to all the religious organizations on the island. He has sold scores of lands for reasonable cost to the inhabitants for building houses in Cherry Tree. The Mansion and other places which amounted to approximately 38 acres of land.
Amidst a busy industrious life, he took time to care for the well-being of his wife and children. Mr. Courtar was by no means perfect in all his doings. But the good he did for his family, the community and for humanity at large outweighed the bad. The ample achievements of this industrious compatriot have helped to make Statia a better place today.
Mr. Courtar presently lives a life in peaceful solitude while expressing gratitude to God for His countless blessings in achieving what he achieved in his life. This brings to bear these words: “A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love and wellbeing. ” James E. Faust.
This is part and parcel, with some credit to one of his many daughters, Joslyn Courtar who assisted in objectively defining the qualities of a man who gives of his time and resources to help just about anyone in need.
It is with much optimism that if Statia’s leadership and other leaders adapt some of the qualities and characteristics of Mr. Alvin Courtar there would be a move to the desired direction for a better community.