January 30, 2020
Dear Freedomcity Times Editor,
I gasped when I saw the story of Ann Abramson’s passing. (FreedomcityTimes.com Jan. 25, 2020). Ann was one of those persons you never associated with mortality.
Birth named Ann Elizabeth Christian, she is the only Virgin Islander to have received national recognition as “Entrepreneur of the Year,” awarded to those who strive for business distinction through excellence.
Six-term Senator Holland Redfield, III, was then-White House Liaison and informed the committee for that prestigious prize of Ann’s achievements.
Yet, she never entertained the idea that she was “self-made.” With smiles glowing from her flawless equatorial face, Ann enjoyed retelling stories of her hard-working family in Frederiksted’s vibrant economy where natives owned nine bakeries, 52 stores, plus a skilled silversmith who fixed many household items.
Ann gave credit to others including her brothers. Peter was a pioneer in the grocery business, Alphonso and Allan were lawyers. Alphonso became a judge. And school Principal, Clifford, inherited the nickname “Mayor of Frederiksted.”
In three interviews with Ann for my book “Fountain Valley 1972,” she proved to be a truly special person. Ann worked hard for gain and just as easily gave back. I recall yearning to win the fancy new car she donated every year to be raffled at St. Patrick’s Annual Bazaar. This charity was but one of the many she contributed throughout her life.
Alas, poet Henry Longfellow mourned: “Thy fate is the common fate of all, into each life some rain must fall. Some days must be dark and dreary.” As so said, Ann was convicted in a retrial on charges about federal funds in consequence of the jury’s power—in the terse words of a Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge—“to return a verdict in the teeth of both the law and the facts.”
I represented Ann’s subcontractor in her first trial. She had stateside counsel whom I asked to not bring up another project that wasn’t part of the case but he did the opposite to show Ann had similar contracts without problems. My client lost his case and the jury hung as to Ann’s. Months later, a juror came up to me and said: “Two jurors refused to let Ann go because we convicted their countryman from St. Kitts, and they said that we have to convict the Crucian too.”
In her second trial, Ann was acquitted of the same charges in the first trial, but convicted on added charges arising from that project I’d asked her counsel to not put in issue. The U.S. Supreme Court teaches the more charges which are filed the more likely the jury will think the accused must have done something wrong.
Ann’s rain didn’t douse her smile while talking of her walking 12 miles a day as a teacher for $50 a month. She didn’t talk the walk. Ann walked the walk.
Respectfully, Michael A. Joseph