Clear values suit retired scientist to a tee
Gloria Frederick has never played a round of golf in her life, but don’t tell her she’s not an expert on the game.
When she can’t travel to tournaments, she’s watching on television.
Sunday was a very good day. She sat glued to the television as her idol, Tiger Woods, won his fifth Masters and fifteenth major title 11 years after his last win.
“I almost cried,” the 81-year-old said. “He was super. He won after such a long absence and so many surgeries and problems. He always felt he would come back; we began to doubt he would win another major. When he won the crowd just went up in a roar shouting: ‘Tiger! Tiger!’
“I admire how players are willing to put in so much time and practice to perfect their skills.”
The retired scientist and college professor has seen Woods play in person several times.
She and her son, Esan, travelled to PGA tournaments as a bonding activity for 16 years.
For five years they took a break, then started going again in 2017.
“The first one we went to was the 2003 Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando in 2003,” she said. “Tiger had won that tournament three times and was going to try to win it for a fourth time.”
She found the round particularly exciting because Woods won the game despite food poisoning.
“He was crouching and holding his stomach, quite close to where I was standing,” Dr Frederick said, a little gleefully.
Golf isn’t her only interest, despite never having been athletic she’s equally enamoured with baseball and basketball.
“I tried out for high jump in school,” she laughed. “I couldn’t jump higher than 3ft.”
Academics kept her busy.
“I loved school,” she said. “I loved learning.”
She grew up on Roberts Avenue in Devonshire. Her father, Kenneth Simmons, was a plumber, and her mother, Ivy, stayed at home with their nine children.
“Today we’d be considered poor,” she said. “But back then everyone we knew was in the same boat.”
At 12 she won a scholarship to the Berkeley Institute, having had the second-highest exam score.
The school had tough standards; Dr Frederick believes they were necessary.
“We were the top black school in Bermuda, so we as black people always had to be better than the rest, overqualified.”
After finishing at Berkeley she worked as a student teacher, babysitter, cashier and older person’s companion, to raise money to go to McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Only able to raise half the money needed, former teachers, friends and family chipped in, organising different events to help.
During her second year at the university she won the Bermuda Girls Scholarship, which carried her through to the end of her undergraduate studies.
She entered the honours chemistry programme in her second year, mistakenly thinking it would be easier than the regular science programme.
“There were more courses listed under the regular programme,” she said. “I didn’t realise you could choose between them. I thought you had to do them all.”
She excelled, eventually earning a doctorate in chemical analysis.
Although about a third of her class was female, McGill wasn’t entirely welcoming.
“They would say, ‘You are only there in science to get a title in front of your name and a title after — to get married’,” she said. “We had the privilege of doing things general students were not exposed to. They felt it was a waste of time training a woman when she wouldn’t want to stay in the discipline.”
One of her professors, Gene Cave, had worked with the Canadian Royal Mounted Police.
“He treated your thesis like it was a criminal case,” she said. “You had to prove your case, and you had to be very exact.”
After graduation, Dr Frederick continued at the university for another five years, teaching, lecturing and tutoring.
She met her husband Rawle Frederick, at a party. From Trinidad, he was finishing up his studies in literature and education.
Today she teases that he used his cigarettes as a ruse to get to know her.
“Every time he wanted a cigarette he had to come back to me,” she said.
They were married on December 21, 1968 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year.
Their sons, Esan and Oladapo, were born while they were in Canada.
“I stayed in the student area,” Dr Frederick said. “I was able to rush home and nurse my sons. I didn’t make any money from it, but I was the bread winner and kept the family going.”
Once her husband graduated, the family went to Tanzania with the Canadian University Services Overseas, a counterpart of the Peace Corps.
Twelve years after independence, the country was practising ujamaa — self-reliance.
In the town of Iringa, the Fredericks taught high school, and were required to farm two acres with their own hands and a hoe.
Rather than seeing it as a hardship they loved it and are still passionate gardeners today.
“Working with Dr Cave, in Canada, made me not shirk from hard work and doing things properly,” Dr Frederick said. “Living in Africa, that self-reliance worked well for me. We realised we could make do.”
After three years, wanting a western education for their sons, they moved to Trinidad and then to Bermuda.
Dr Frederick taught science at the Bermuda College for 21 years before retiring in 1998.
Now she enjoys taking classes at the Life Long Learning Centre there.
She’s most proud that she has managed to stay “simple” despite her accomplishments — she lives in Devonshire, not far from where she grew up.
“I never felt I needed all the trappings of success,” she said. “My values are good health and keeping an open mind and being flexible.”
The Fredericks have four grandchildren.
• Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or email@example.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them.