Dr. James Lee Wah
~ retired, in Trinidad, in 2002.

  • Dr Lee Wah: School Days video
  • Dr Lee Wah: The Naparima Identity video
  • Dr Lee Wah: Art and Drama in Schools video
  • Dr Lee Wah: on Naipaul's award video

  • NGC 2016 Tribute to Dr Lee Wah

    Mr. Lee Wah, a son of San Fernando, won a bursary to Naparima in 1942, and graduated with the Class of 1948-49, having twice qualified as a runner-up for a Senior Certificate island scholarship. Inspired, like so many others, by Mr Laltoo's passion for literature, he studied English at the University of the West Indies at Mona, then returned as a career master at Naps in 1956. He also served as vice-principal from 1966 until his retirement in the mid-seventies.

    An inspiring champion of the Arts and English Literature in particular, he also was a long-standing supporter of community arts. He started and published Gayap, a periodical dedicated to a review of artistic efforts in San Fernando. He also led the long-lived successful San Fernando Drama Guild (founded by Horace James) from the late 1950's until 1976, when he started the San Fernando Theatre Workshop. He was, and continues to be an indefatiguable promoter and producer of local writing and drama.

    In the mid-sixties, when the San Fernando Hill (also formally called Naparima Hill) appeared to be in real danger of disappearing completely to commercial quarrying, Mr Lee Wah led the citizens' efforts to save this emblematic natural feature of their town.

    Later in his retirement years, he conceived the idea of transforming a part of the Hill into a botanical garden for species of local trees, among others; a notion that remains for future generations to consider.

    In 2010, the University of Trinidad and Tobago awarded Lee Wah an honorary doctorate for Performing Arts.

    At school, apart from his focus on English literature, Mr Lee Wah was an enthusiastic supporter of related student activities such as the Senior Literary and Debating Society, the Olympian, school socials, and stage productions. Shortly after his arrival, he launched the "Blue Circle Network" (a weekly 10-minute student broadcast on the school public address system), and the monthly school newsletter, "The Blue Circle Supplement".

    During his student days, Mr Lee Wah met his Jamaican soulmate, Mavis, who followed a similar illustrious career at Naparima Girls' High School.

    There never was a more resilient, patient, genial teacher than Mr. Lee Wah. Even after Eddie Sookoo spray-painted his slippered foot in flat grey — even after a large number of boys lifted his parked Austin Mini and installed it in an inextricable location amidst an adjacent copse, or minor arboretum, of botanically-select species at the Naparima Bowl — he never lost his tolerant smile and gentle mood. A consistent humanist, Mr. Lee Wah was and is always genuinely pleased to meet a fellow inhabitant of the earth.

    In class, he depended on a similar convivial approach to his students and subject matter. His quiet exposition of the motifs, themes, imagery and verbal techniques of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, the metaphysical poets, the Romantics, Tennyson and even the scrabbling writers of the twentieth century, conveyed meaning through his own delivery and conviction. Within Naparima's tradition as a school of sensitive ideas, thought, and literary appreciation, Mr. Lee Wah was an incomparable culmination to three generations of English masters.


    Mr. Lee Wah in a playfully dramatic mood offstage, while directing a national production to represent Trinidad, at expo67 in Montreal

          ~ James, with Sharon and Mavis, 2014 ~

        David Sammy's Eulogy for Mavis Lee Wah, 2019
        David Sammy's Eulogy for James Lee Wah, 1931-2020