The nation loses an icon

“He always had a smile for everyone and every situation.”
The foregoing was but one of the many comments made about the late Stuart Louie, popularly known as Rudy, who was brutally gunned down as he went to visit his brother at Gibson Corner on the morning of 30 November 2012 – another victim of the seemingly senseless violence that threatens to overtake this beautiful country of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Rudy was buried on Sunday last following a fitting service that lasted two and one half hours at the hard court in Rose Bank.
The entire Rose Bank community as well as hundreds of friends from St Vincent and the Grenadines and beyond found time to be at the funeral service to celebrate the life of a young man who was selfless in his immense contribution to the development of his native land. As Patel Matthews, Parliamentary Representative for North Leeward, stated in his eulogy, He had a way with people that made them feel comfortable around him and infected others to gravitate toward him.
For many, the sudden and brutal demise of Rudy allowed them to reflect on whether the phrase, only the good die young, has more significance than we actually pay to it.
For others there was great concern that our society has become so callous that a young man could have his life so brutally cut down, leaving his relatively large family behind to fend for themselves.
What has become of our Vincentian society that we can no longer find other ways of managing our differences?
The answer to this question remains particularly elusive.
The outpouring of sentiments at Rudy’s funeral reflected in large measure the continued search for answers to the aforementioned question.
Rudy was always enthusiastic about sport. He loved to compete and never relished the thought of giving up.
He was an active competitor in athletics and football while at school in Petit Bordel and was an integral part of the North Leeward athletics grouping that experiences several name changes during his time.
Rudy and his sister Urel, were always eager to compete in national events hosted by the national association. The records will show that he was once a winner of the national half marathon.
The success of Ashford Morris of Coulls Hill in the national Guinness Marathon served as appropriate inspiration to the likes of Rudy and others in North Leeward to showcase their running potential. For many years the North Stars athletics fraternity had the highest level of participation in national road races across the country and Rudy was an integral part of that.
In his rather comprehensive and entertaining eulogy on Rudy, Patel Matthews, highlighted Rudy’s keen interest in being a member of the school’s football team in addition to be on the athletics squad.
According to Matthews, Rudy’s effervescence was an inspiration to all. His determination was remarkable and served to inspire those around him.
Rudy sponsored the (Rose Bank) team uniforms on many occasion and was involved in taking the teams on tours to different districts throughout the length and breadth of this country. Rudy was an avid cyclist and competed and even won a national organised BMX bike race from Biabou to Kingstown. He was even lost but managed to find his way and won the race, Matthews noted.
As a member of the Northern Boyz basketball team Rudy, as one of the best defensive players in the National Championships, motivated the team through to eventual success. This was one of the highlights of sports in the North leeward area.
As Matthews recounted, for the best of three finals against the then champion team, Northern Boyz had to travel to Arnos Vale, a costly exercise.
The team won the first game and risked losing the second game with four minutes left on the clock. Rudy told the team members that they had to win the second game because the team did not have any money to pay to come to Arnos Vale for a third game, Matthews recounted.
Rudy was not lying. The team really did not have the resources to return to Arnos Vale. It was however Rudy’s tenacity that allowed him to find a way of making this truism a motivating factor that led to their second consecutive victory and the Championship title.
Love for youth & community development
Perhaps Rudy will be remembered in sport the most for his indefatigable efforts at facilitating youth and community development in North Leeward.
Matthews said, as a villager Rudy was a Rose Bank man by heart. He believed in this community and it’s potential. He was a part of the original light up committee in Rose Bank and as you can see his efforts and those of others are still paying off up to today.
Rudy loved children and committed himself to working with and for them regardless of personal cost.
Many will recall his Summer Fest. It was a programme intended to get as many of the children of North Leeward as possible onto the playing field to engage in some form of sport. He canvassed the respective national sports associations to get their support in one form or another. He wanted each child to get a certificate to show his/her participation.
Rudy sought to use the summer programme to encourage the community to help the children stay active and enjoy sport in the hope that some of them would go on to become committed athletes.
A few years ago Rudy introduced a Sports Extravaganza on the Petit Bordel Playing Field on 14 March, National Heroes Day. Here again he tried to have the children and youths of the North leeward Community come together for a fun-filled day of sporting activity under his Hott Vibes Promotions label.
In all of his endeavours in the North leeward area in respect of sport Rudy wanted the children to have unforgettable experiences. It was less about him and more about them and their future.
During his programmes he would be seen hyper-active, hustling to get everything done with the support of this friend, that partner and the entire community.
Always his programmes ended with the usual festive activity that saw him having music and merriment for all.
Rudy had a very special relationship with Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG). Following his days of active competition he collaborated in many ways throughout each year.
He assisted in mobilising athletes to participate in the races and other activities that the organisation hosted in North Leeward.
There was no coach or technical official who ventured in the North Leeward area to work however briefly in the development of athletics who did not in one way or another receive Rudy’s enthusiastic support.
Final race
It was perhaps fortuitous that on Sunday 25 November 2012 when TASVG hosted the final in the LOG Enterprises three-race series that began at Troumaca Bay and ended at the Beachfront Restaurant and Bar, Rudy showed up at the starting line to run on final time.
Rudy had not competed in a TASVG Road race for more than a decade even though he remained an avid supporter and collaborator with the organisation. His presence at the start was in no way surprising since he would have helped in mobilising athletes and the community to be part of the event. But to have him register as a participant to encourage the athletes and challenge the older athletes in competition was a different matter.
In many respect Rudy ran the race of his life and when he eventually crossed the finish line there were loud cheers from all but especially from the countless North leeward children who felt proud that Uncle Rudy had run the full course.
No one knew at the time that this would have been Rudy’s final race.
On Sunday last members of the sporting community around St Vincent and the Grenadines with whom Rudy was involved turned out in support of his life’s celebration. Fittingly it was the footballers who took his casket from the hard court where the service was held to the Rose Bank cemetery.
There were many sides to Rudy’s life but that is not our concern here. We address his sporting legacy.
Rudy has left a great legacy of lifelong, selfless commitment to youth development through sport in North Leeward. Matthews put is this way, His generosity knew no boundaries as he was willing to give a lending hand to anyone who is in need.
He was no coach but he was an avid organiser, pulling in people wherever it was necessary, ensuring that things happened to benefit the children and youths.
All have commented on how such a young man could have sought to engage himself in and accomplish so much in so short a space of time. He placed his immense talent at the service of others.
Rudy never allowed his age to deter him. His free spirit allowed him to find creative yet fun-filled ways of working with people regardless of their own condition.
In many respect, Rudy’s smile is perhaps his most endearing legacy. It told everything about him. It was a symbol of his inner peace. His commitment to helping others before all else and his enduring desire to see the youth access a sound foundation for the future that belongs to them.
May Stuart ‘Rudy’ Louie rest in peace.